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How to eat more sustainably

We all know that eating less meat is good for our health and good for the planet. Last year, the largest scientific analysis to date found that avoiding meat and dairy is the biggest single way you can reduce your negative impact on the environment. Perhaps you’ve decided to swap some of the meat out of your diet, or gone vegetarian or vegan, as many people have, in an effort to eat in a way that’s more sustainable. It’s commendable, but unfortunately, the truth isn’t always as black and white as it seems to be.

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The idea that a certain way of eating could be more sustainable and eco-friendly is certainly appealing, especially in the wake of the reports and news coverage about the catastrophic destruction we are doing to the planet. Veganism is often touted as the most effective answer for reducing CO2 emissions, however, it seems this brings a host of other problems in itself.

The fact is, just because something is vegan doesn’t mean there’s not a big impact on the environment. Take almond milk, for example. A fridge staple for many vegans, it can be used as a dairy milk substitute in everything from porridge to tea, and the growing shelf space given to it in supermarkets is testament to its popularity. But what people don’t realise is the damage being done by plantations in California, where more than 80 percent of the world’s almonds come from. It takes nearly 7000 litres of water to produce one litre of almond milk, and California has been in severe drought for the best part of the last decade.

THE TROUBLE WITH TOFU

Some tofu, a popular plant-based protein, is also far from innocent. Soy farming in Brazil is causing mass deforestation and destroying the country’s grasslands. Most of this farming is to produce feed for cattle, but still, it’s better to choose European tofu, which has a much smaller carbon footprint – some soy products from South America can have twice the carbon footprint of a chicken.

Avocados, whose rise to fame is credited to their Instagram-friendly appearance, have been in such demand that Kenya earlier this year banned their exportation and Mexico, which supplies almost half of the planet’s avocados, last year was considering importing a supply to feed its own citizens, creating a crazy carbon loop! The country makes so much from exporting the fruit that illegal deforestation to make way for avocado plantations is now commonplace.

The danger in simply saying certain ways of eating are better for the planet can lead to a very false sense of a box being ticked, a much more valuable approach is to think about everything more holistically.

There is no blanket rule for sustainable food. Common sense says that a free-range, slow-grown chicken from the farm down the road would have less of a carbon footprint than fruit or vegetables flown half way across the world.

It’s true that vegan foods that contain ingredients such as palm oil, which is devastating to forests, local communities and animals, are wreaking more havoc on the planet than locally-sourced eggs, for example.

So is locally-sourced a good signifier for planet-friendly purchases? It seems it is, in most cases, although there are exceptions. It sounds strange, but it’s backed up by a DEFRA report, which found New Zealand lamb has a lower carbon footprint than British lamb because it is grown at such a low intensity, even when shipping to the UK is factored in. Kiwi lamb aside, choosing fruit and veg that’s in season means avoiding produce which has been air freighted or grown in heated greenhouses. An easy way to do this is to use a vegetable box service like Riverford, which sources in-season food from a network of farms. The company extends the vegetable growing season as far as it can using polytunnels but never uses artificial light or heat. Some commercially-produced vegetables are grown in glass hothouses which burn gas or oil, and for every kilo of tomatoes produced this way, two to three kilos of CO2 are released into the atmosphere. When the weather no longer allows them to be grown in this country, Riverford trucks the fruits over from Spain, which uses just a tenth of the carbon compared with growing them in the UK using heat.

ORGANIC SOLUTION

Another way to ensure better sustainability is to shop for organic food, which has a lesser carbon footprint, Organic farming means working with nature. It means higher levels of animal welfare, lower levels of pesticides and no manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers. It’s a more environmentally sustainable way to manage the land and natural environment, which means more wildlife and healthier soils.

One final word of warning: next time you set off for the shops with your bags for life, confident you’re doing enough to offset your carbon footprint, remember this. You need to reuse a bag for life eight times before its footprint becomes lower than a normal carrier bag, and if you think your cotton tote lets you off the hook, make sure you use it 149 times! Some experts have said reusable, thicker plastic bags might be making the problem worse as there are now more in circulation than ever – so whatever you use, make sure you reuse it.

PLENTY OF FISH?

We know about the health benefits but, when it comes to seafood, sustainability isn’t entirely clear cut, as it isn’t just the individual species of fish that determines whether it is a good choice, but how and where it lived and where it was caught. Helpfully, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) produces the Good Fish Guide, which it updates yearly. You can read in detail about any individual fish and its environmental impact by visiting mcsuk.org/goodfishguide/search but, in the meantime, here’s a quick guide of which to focus on:

5 most sustainable

  • Pollock (Alaska/walleye)
  • Native oysters (sail and oar)
  • European hake (gill or fixed)
  • Herring/sild (MCS-certified)
  • Coley/saithe (MCS-certified)
  • Haddock (from Rockall or MCS-certified)

5 to avoid

  • Seabass (caught at sea)
  • Dover Sole (from the Irish sea and pulse trawled)
  • Plaice (from southwest Ireland and caught using pulse trawls)
  • Sturgeon (wild-caught)
  • Squid (common or European squid caught in the English Channel with fishing gear other than jigs)

Rachel x 

 

Please Note: I was not paid or sponsored by Riverford in any way, I am just a big fan of what they do!

5 Of The Best Morning-After Foods

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GINGER

Make a brew with this medicinal root and your upset tum will thank you for it! Just finely chop or grate a couple of inches of fresh ginger and pour over a pint of boiling water. Brew for five or ten minutes then sip slowly – Voila! Hydration and a soothed stomach in a single glass.

EGGS

Gentle on a nauseous tummy the morning after, eggs help replenish some of the B vitamins depleted by quaffing a little too much wine, plus they contain cysteine which helps to get rid of the excess toxins left in your body by alcohol. Get cracking!

ARTICHOKE

The globe was used medically as long ago as 400BC for disorders involving the liver and digestion. It’s now known to stimulate the liver to produce more bile. Cynarin, one of the active compounds in the plant, is found in the leaves in small amounts, but becomes much more potent when extracted and dried. The compounds in artichoke also help to reduce nausea, vomiting, intestinal spasms and gas.

COCONUT WATER

Many of the symptoms of a hangover are caused by dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic – it makes you pee out more liquid than you’re putting in to your body. Coconut water is rich in the minerals potassium and magnesium, which help your body to re hydrate more effectively than drinking just plain old water. But it does contain calories so isn’t ideal as a complete replacement for your normal two liters a day sipping.

BANANAS

If you’re feeling shaky and weak when you wake up, the chances are that your blood sugar is very low. Eating a banana will help get it back on track, plus it will pack a mean punch of potassium, something you lose when you become dehydrated through drinking alcohol. Upping your level of this mineral back into normal territory will help with any cramps, nausea or sickness you’re suffering too.

Rachel x

A Lack Of Sleep Can Make You An Angrier Person

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If I miss out on even the littlest bit of rest, I am the world’s grumpiest person. In my defense, it makes sense: Sleep is essentially the most important part of wellness. And according to a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, lack of sleep has the ability to intensify feelings of anger, which explains my unshakably grumpy disposition when I lack sleep.

Now, it might seem like it goes without saying that you’re mildly agitated when you don’t get enough sleep—who wouldn’t be? But according to the researchers at Iowa State University, there’s always been speculation about whether the actual sleep loss was to blame for exacerbated feelings of anger or if preexisting anger was responsible for disrupting the sleep cycle. So, they decided to recruit a group of participants in order to get to the bottom of sleep’s unique relationship with anger.

The scientists split the subjects into two groups: One group continued with their normal sleep schedule, and the second group was instructed to restrict their sleep by two to four hours a night for two nights. The first group turned out to sleep an average of seven hours a night while the second ended up getting around four and a half hours. And though the latter may seem extreme, Zlatan Krizan, Ph.D., an Iowa State psychology professor and one of the study authors, explained that this exemplifies the sleep loss we typically experience on any given day.

In order to measure anger and see if that sleep loss provoked it, the researchers had these participants then come into a lab after the sleep manipulation and rate a variety of products, once while listening to brown noise (which sounded like spraying water) and then while listening to harsher white nose (which sounded like a static signal). These uncomfortable audio-induced conditions were used in order to provoke anger, Dr. Krizan explained in the news release.

“In general, anger was substantially higher for those who were sleep-restricted,” he said. “We manipulated how annoying the noise was during the task, and as expected, people reported more anger when the noise was more unpleasant. When sleep was restricted, people reported even more anger, regardless of the noise.”

Clearly, proper sleep is of utmost importance in order to avoid unnecessary hostility.

So if you’re feeling angrier than usual, you might want to catch up on sleep. If you’re having trouble getting a high-quality snooze, don’t be afraid to get strategic about your sleep schedule—if not for its abundance of well-known health benefits, then at the very least to dispel some of your rage.

Rachel x

Sitting For Too Long Could Be Hurting Your Brain

By now, it’s common knowledge that getting your body moving regularly throughout the day is about more than just staying fit. Sitting for too long can lead to a slew of adverse health effects over time: Past research has shown that sedentary behavior can increase your risk for cardiovascular damage, obesitycertain types of cancer, and even early death. Yikes. And now, a study conducted at Liverpool John Moores University in explains how your brain could also be feeling the effects of extended physical inactivity. Fortunately, the researchers were also able to identify a strategy to offset the effects.

The scientists used ultrasound probes to study the brains of 15 healthy adults as they worked through three seated four-hour sessions. In the first session, the participants sat for the entire four hours uninterrupted. In the second session, they stopped two hours in to take a leisurely eight-minute walk on a treadmill before returning to their desks for another two hours. In the third session, they stood up every 30 minutes to walk on the treadmill for a quick two minutes.

The results came in squarely against long, consecutive work sessions: Those who didn’t get up at all in the four hours saw a dip in blood flow to their brains. The people who got up once midway through their sitting time did have increased blood flow while they were up and moving, but after they returned to their seats and kept working for two more hours, they ended up with even lower blood flow than when they’d started. But those with the frequent walking breaks in between? Their brains actually had more blood flowing by the end of the session than when they’d begun.

As common wisdom about “getting the blood flowing” suggests, the human brain needs a constant supply of blood to function properly. Blood is packed with oxygen and other healthy nutrients; even short-term dips in cerebral blood flow can slow a person’s thinking and memory. That means sitting at your desk for long stretches of time is not only bad for your health—it’s also eating into your productivity.

Moving your legs periodically (aka fidgeting) may help counteract a sedentary lifestyle. You can, of course, also make a point to stand up from your desk regularly or get a standing desk. If there’s no standing desk in your future, there are plenty of other ways to get the blood moving throughout the day: Try changing your sitting position often, give your eyes a break – every 30 minutes of screen time try to take a few minutes to look away from your computer, go outside and try to take the stairs whenever possible.

At the very least, have a bowl of brain-boosting blueberries handy—or within a two-minute walking distance.

Rachel x

Georganics oil pulling mouthwash

Oil Pulling Mouthwash - Spearmint - Georganics Oral Care

I received a bottle of Georganics oil pulling spearmint mouthwash in a gift bag at a talk about Ayurveda earlier this year, and I have been using it ever since!

It’s blend of Coconut oil and Spearmint leaf essential oil, has a fresh flavour and properties very similar to that of Peppermint oil but with much softer minty flavour. It is a strong antiseptic, eliminating germs and promoting healing.

• Fluoride free, SLS free & glycerin free
• Plaque reducing blend with organic coconut oil
• Certified PETA cruelty-free & vegan ingredients
• Recyclable glass jar & aluminium lid
• Compostable cardboard box and vegetable ink

How to use this product

Take 1-2 tablespoons of oil, swish it around your mouth for 5 – 20 minutes before spitting it out. The longer you hold the oil in your mouth the greater the effect! For the best results swish until the oil has turned a milky white, indicating that the bacteria has been “pulled” off.

Rachel x

 

 

12 Self-Care Tips For Anyone Who Works Too Much

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Self-care is absolutely crucial in our busy modern lives, where we have created this culture of working as -much-as-you-can and working-as-hard-as-you-can. Thanks to technology and smartphones, we’re accessible for work just about 24 hours a day. We even feel others will look down on us or think we’re selfish if we take time off or don’t respond to email, texts, and phone calls quickly enough!

This often leads to feeling exhausted, burnt out, and becoming irritable. If you know you work too much, then it’s time to make self-care a priority.

Here are my 12 self-care tips that you can choose from to make a part of your own regular practice so that you feel good about taking care of yourself (and you get a break from your work!).

1. Listen to your body.

It will let you know when you need rest or exercise or healthy food or sleep or pretty much anything, if you’re paying attention.

2. Get enough sleep.

If you’re not sleeping enough or getting good sleep, then you’re going to be pretty cranky and other people probably won’t like being around you much

3. Exercise.

You need to move your body regularly in order for it to feel its best. Go for a run, ride your bike or join a yoga class.

4. Spend some time outside.

If you’re working hard in an office, then you probably aren’t getting much fresh air or sun.

5. Spend time alone.

It’s how you’ll really get to know how to identify your needs and figure out what makes you happy.

6. Use your Holiday time.

Don’t let it go to waste. You need time off from your job.

7. Use your sick time.

Don’t force yourself to go to work when you’re sick or not feeling great because it will be harder to recover (plus your co-workers won’t be too happy with you).

8. Read.

It’s self-care for your mind. And this doesn’t include work documents!

9. Meditate.

This is really relaxing and can be done anywhere — even five minutes of focusing on your breath makes a difference.

10. Practice mindfulness.

Allowing yourself to stay in the present and be nonjudgmental about your thoughts is the ULTIMATE self-care routine.

11. Forgive yourself.

Stop beating yourself up over things that happened in the past, because it’s going to drain your energy.

12. Forgive others.

Let go of past hurts because they are just going to weigh you down with negative feelings.

Rachel x

What You Need To Know About Healthy Living In Your 30s

Turning 30 can be both joyful and perplexing. Especially if the majority of your twenties was spent partying, pulling all-nighters, and eating all the pizza you wished to, this decade can be one of transformation and acceptance that your body likely won’t recover as quickly as it used to.

Oftentimes your thirties can be a rough 10 years of mental and physical metamorphosis, until you hit your forties and the crusade continues. To make it simple, let’s break down the various changes that can happen and discuss how to support your body through this decade.

Mental health in your thirties.

This is the decade in which you gain clarity about what you really want out of life. And this can be stressful as it means you must shift your habits—oftentimes taking your foot off the accelerator and putting it on the brakes. This is when you often decide whether you want to have a child or not, and you may struggle with focusing on your career but also wanting to settle down and start a family. In our thirties our lives tend to be all-around demanding: mentally, physically, and psychologically. So make a list of all the things that overwhelm you, and prioritize the ones you absolutely have to do. Simplifying life is the key. Know exactly what you want and the strategy to get there. It will take trial and error, but it will be worth it!

Weight loss in your thirties.

Depending on how well you lived your twenties, the thirties can be a decade of slow and steady weight gain, bone-density loss, and loss of muscle mass. So being physically fit is crucial; you cannot be overweight and be optimally healthy. Weight is a marker of inflammation and oftentimes leptin and insulin resistance, so exercise is a must—especially if you have a sedentary job. A great option is to work with a personal trainer until you are comfortable doing strength-training exercises to control weight, protect muscle mass, and keep you fit and active. Thyroid problems are also common in this decade, so if you’re having real trouble losing weight, it might be wise to get a thyroid check.

Breast health in your thirties.

Breast health can be an issue in your thirties, with fibrocystic breast tissue being at its peak. Avoiding and correcting any iodine deficiencies can help protect your breasts during this time. This is also the decade during which we should become more accountable when it comes to our own health; make sure you see your doctor regularly and do plenty of self-exams.

Self-care in your thirties.

Being a thirtysomething can get overwhelming—so much so that there’s a tendency to turn your focus away from the self. Be deliberate and commit to carving out time for yourself. Our skin often starts to show early signs of aging during our thirties. This is a good time to slow down the fun in the sun and ramp up your skin self-care regimen and invest in natural beauty and skin care products.

Fertility in your thirties.

Fertility is often a big topic of conversation in your thirties. And this is the time to get serious about having children if it’s something you want. Having a baby in your forties not impossible or wrong, but the risk for birth defects is certainly higher after 35. If you’re planning a pregnancy, take prenatal vitamins, and avoid alcoholic drinks at least two months before conception as it will help you have a normal and healthy pregnancy.

Sleep in your thirties.

Disturbances in your sleep can be an important marker of hormonal imbalance and the state of your overall health. Make sure you’re sleeping well (seven to nine hours each night) and not requiring any extra medication for this. If you do have trouble sleeping, avoid blue light for the few hours before bed. I also find that if you journal your most stressful thoughts prior to bedtime it can break the “looping” of these negative thoughts in the brain and help you fall asleep more peacefully.

Supplementing in your thirties.

Supplements are recommended when what we eat is not fulfilling all of our nutritional needs. And this is especially important in the thirties because stress can eat up a lot of the essential nutrients. These supplements are commonly recommended for thirtysomething women:

  • B-vitamin
  • Omega-3
  • Vitamin D
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin C

All of the above are common-sense approaches to the changes that occur during this decade and will help create a smooth transition into your forties. Women who take care of themselves in their thirties really blossom in their forties. But if they ignore this decade, it can take even longer to recover their health and happiness. Work with a GP on preventive care and a life coach or wellness coach who can help you tackle the most pressing decisions of this decade.

Rachel x

 

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