A Natural Approach to the Common Headache

migraine-headache

We all suffer from headaches and migraines from time to time. Some more than others, infact 15% of the population suffer more regularly than others and take prescribed medication to ease their pain. Headaches can be caused by a variety of psychological and physical dysfunctions ranging from stress, poor diet, dehydration, muscle tension and posture to life style choices. Like headaches, migraines can also be caused by a range of factors and can cause nausea, vomiting to visual disturbances. The underlying causes of both headaches and migraines can be drawn to one single factor or a number of contributing elements.

Here is a list of natural remedies to aid your headaches and migraines

Herbs:

Using herbs rich in volatile oils can help ease the discomfort of a headache or prevent a further attack.  To use an essential oil, dilute 1-2 drops of the oil in olive oil and rub into your temples or neck. Some of my favourites are lavender, rosemary or peppermint oil. The scent from these oils help ease the pain quiet rapidly.

To aid nausea or acid digestion from a manic migraine, try drinking a mug of chamomile or peppermint tea which are great muscle relaxants and anti spasmodic.

Foods:

Bananas are rich is magnesium, a muscle relaxant and potassium which is an essential part of your electrolyte balance. If your body is feeling dehydrated then try eating a banana to refuel your body of essential nutrients.

Magnesium deficiency may interrupt nerve and muscle impulses, too, which can result in irritability that may trigger headaches. Almonds are also full of magnesium and may prevent the full blow of a headache by relaxing blood vessels. By eating a diet rich in magnesium foods may see some relief from the consistency of headaches.

Spinach is a natural cleanser and contains 30% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C and 40% of the daily recommended intake of iron which having a deficiency in iron can also be a cause of a headache. Spinach works by acting as an anti-inflammatory reducing the likelihood of a headache.

Other contributing factors:

Allergies to certain foods:

Having an allergic reaction to certain foods is a common contributor for migraine sufferers. Foods including red meat, chocolate (yes i know!), dairy products, sugar, yeast products, vitamin B supplements, acidic foods and alcohol. A reaction is not normally caused by one particular food but a number of foods over a period of time. If you suspect an allergy to sticking to a diet of raw foods for 2 to 3 days and gradually reintroduce foods to determine your tolerance. Check out my list of clean eating recipes for ideas on simple menu options.

Posture:

The way we sit, stand and sleep can place undue stress on our skeletal system. Common postural problems include slouching at our desks, sitting for long periods of time, repetitive tasks, When muscles become irritated they produce a chemical response and pain can be felt in the near by nerve area. Identifying whether you suffer from poor postural habits whether it be at home or at work is the first step of reducing unnecessary headaches or migraines. Chiropractors and physios are trained in treating affected areas where pain has been inflicted. Improving your posture will automatically decrease the likelihood of any onset disorders or pain.

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Is Confidence the New Sexy?

Confidence

We all have our moments where we have self doubt, self loathe and low self esteem. Studies show that the average persons daily thoughts consist of 80% negativity.. that only leaves 20% for the happy stuff!If we actually placed all our energy into focusing on our qualities and the positives in life we would have a much happier state of mind.

Here is how you can start giving yourself some self love and become a much more confident being:

Identify your Talents
Each day think about the the things which you excel at either at work, home or a hobby which you partake in. Be proud of these talents and don’t be shy about showcasing your skills! whether they be your ability to make someone laugh, being a great listener, negotiator or empathy. When you are passionate about something you love it doesn’t become a chore or seem meaningless.

Get Moving!
Research shows that exercising releases those feel good endorphins which the end result is better confidence! Being insecure about your body is not going to make you feel any better about yourself, neither is telling yourself your jeans are too tight, nothing fits or that you are too embarrassed to socialise with friends. Its human nature to compare ourselves to others and want to look and feel better. However having these negative thoughts and doing nothing is only setting yourself up for failure. Everyone needs to start somewhere and each person for their own individual reason, you just need to find what yours is and start!

Live Life
Are you one of those people who dwell on your mistakes? Then stop right here. Focusing on the past is not going to make the future any easier or brighter. We all learn from our mistakes and not one person in this world is perfect. Remember to focus on the positives in life and to live each day as it comes.

By adopting one or all of these techniques will help you see yourself in a different light. Start your road to feeling more confident today!

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Life is not a Race

Do you ever feel like you never have enough time in your day to achieve everything? Do you frequently feel fatigued, suffer from colds on a regular basis? Then it sounds as though you need to adjust a couple of things in your life so you can feel like you are achieving and less burnt out.

Simple signs your body is telling you to slow down:
-Your productivity declines – your putting in all the hours but the finish line still seems so far away. That thing called work life balance is non existent
Sleeplessness/insomnia – you find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep
-Irritable – your irritable towards friends and family, short with answers and feel like spending quality time with your loved ones is a chore
-Health issues – you commonly suffer from colds, the flu or even muscular issues including headaches
-Lack of creativity – you struggle to think of new ideas and seeing an idea through is tiring

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How to get your body back into order:

-Fight the fatigue – ensure your body is getting between 7-8 hours sleep, drink plenty of water (enough so your urine is not dark), listen to relaxation music before bed time to relax your muscles (There are plenty of relaxation albums available on itunes for a small price or even free). If your body is tired, then try having a 30 minute lay day during the day and you will probably find you will have much more energy for doing so.
-Eat your greens! – ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function. Try having 1 green smoothie every morning which contains kale, spinach, flax seeds, apple, celery and water.
-De-clutter the unessential and unnecessary things in your life – this is a simple one, i found living just having a simple garage sale helped clear my house of all thing unnecessary that may give life to someone else. This includes those 3 wardrobes of clothes.
-Priorities your day – if you live a very busy life and have hobbies outside of your work commitments, try listing the tasks which you need to achieve for the week in a diary, keep it simple at the start and you will probably see that you do have time for all these other things which you previously didn’t have time for.
-Remember friends and family are important – Have family nights or schedule regular dates with your friends. This way you can plan your life around these catch ups and feel good about having a balance in your life.

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See how you go integrating these small changes into your life and feel better for it!

What does it mean to be Alkaline?

Ever wondered what being alkaline or eating an alkaline diet meant? Well this topic has been of interest to me of late as I have always wondered what foods were classified under an ‘alkaline’ diet and what benefits they would provide internally.

The term alkaline is measured using the chemistry method of pH. When a persons body has an acidity level of 7 they are considered neutral, 0 is acidic and 14 is completely alkaline. The levels vary between different body parts of the body and can create an inbalance when our pH differs from equilibrium.

Some of the foods we eat are more acidic and some more alkaline. Studies suggest we need a combination of both acid forming and acidic foods. Acid forming foods include meats, cheeses, eggs, grains, sugars including artificial sugars. Alkaline foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, including lemons which are metabolized within the body.

Evidence suggest that even if you eat according to an alkaline diet, nothing you eat will change your pH levels. However by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables could assist in the prevention of kidney stones, improve heart health, reduce back pain and lower the risk of cancers and diabetes.
Apart from the foods listed above. Here is a complete list of alkaline foods. From my own beliefs I generally do not follow any ‘diets’ as such. After researching the alkaline diet and its proven health benefits, it has given me more of a reason to continue to eat a combination of ‘alkaline’ and ‘acid forming’ foods to ensure my body is receiving all the nutrients necessary to function at optimum level. Try adding more alkaline foods into your diet and see what the benefits are for yourself first hand.

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References
http://www.abc.net.au/health/dietguide/stories/2013/07/15/3788862.htm

http://www.acidalkalinediet.net/

 

Pretty Pink Himalayan Salt

Everyone needs a little salt in their lives, our bodies are not able to function without it. Salt itself is over 250 million years old and comes from many different sources including the sea, land and space. There are many different types of salts with many different uses. The salt which is your store bought, table salt or the salt added to processed food is actually made up of 97.5% sodium chloride and 2.5% of other chemicals such as moisture absorbents and iodine. Our bodies have a hard time ‘breaking down’ these unnatural particles using 23 times the amount of water from our cells to neautriize the unnatural sodium chloride. The end result is an in balance in the fluid within our cells.

Excess sodium chloride within our bodies can cause cellulite, arthritis, gout, kidney and gall bladder stones. No thanks!

Salt Alternative:
Himalayan salt is one of earths purest salts. The pink crystal like salt has many health benefits and mimics the 84 necessary elements found within our bodies. The elements inside the salt are so small they are known as colloidal form meaning they can be readily absorbed by our bodies. Crystal salt is also hand mined and does not go through the chemical processing which your normal table salt endures. It also has no shelf life meaning it can outlast your clumpy white salt.
Here is a list of reasons to switch your salty habits to Himalayan salt:
-Regulating the water content within our bodies
-Promoting healthy pH balance in your cells
-Promoting blood sugar health
-Fights the signs of aging
-Absorption of food particles in the intestinal tract
-Prevention of muscle cramps
-Promotes bone strength

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Crystal salt can be found at your local health food, organic store. Some supermarkets are also starting to stock this healthy alternative to your conventional salt.
References
http://products.mercola.com/himalayan-salt/
http://www.maldonsalt.co.uk/About-Salt-Where-does-Salt-come-from.html

Eliminate – Reduce- Inflammation

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Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or recovering from an injury, you have probably experienced some form of inflammation.

The word inflammation comes from the Latin“inflammo”, meaning “I set alight, I ignite”.

Inflammation is the bodys way of protecting itself from harmful stimuli, damaged cells and pathogens. In other words it’s how our body shows it is trying to heal itself. There are two types of inflammation acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs within seconds, minutes, hours or days and is caused by the injury to soft tissue within the body.

When the body is unable to heal itself it becomes chronic inflammation. This type of inflammation becomes non-degradable pathogens that cause persistent inflammation, infection with some types of viruses, persistent foreign bodies, overactive immune system reactions. It can last months to even years. Ouch!

There are many ways of reducing inflammation from tablets, injections, peptides and the more holistic approach, herbs and food! Studies show a diet high in sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation. Whereas other foods can curb inflammation. 

So lets have a look at some of these magical foods. Below is a list of herbs and different foods you can add to your diet to help you recover from ailments and improve your overall health.

Wild Fish

Studies show omega 3 are required for a healthy inflammation response. Eating salmon or oysters once a week can help reduce inflammation. Or if you prefer tablet form,  studies show taking fish oil on a daily basis reduces inflammation over a 6 month period.

Dark Leafy Greens

Studies show a diet high in vitamin E can reduce and fight against inflammatory molecules called cytokines. The types of greens you can add to your diet include spinach, kale and broccoli.

Whole Grains

And I am not talking about your white breads, pasta, cereals and rice. Whole grains contain a lot of fiber and have been shown to reduce the shown to reduce levels of C reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood, and they usually have less added sugar. Whole grains are cereal grains that contain cereal germ, endosperm, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm. Common whole grains include:

  • Wheat
  • Oat
  • Barley – Hulled and Dehulled (not Pearl)
  • Maize
  • Brown rice
  • Farro
  • Spelt

Nuts

Another healthy  inflammation fighting food is the omega 3 and antioxidants found in nuts, especially almonds. Nuts, along with the other 4 foods listed above all form part of the Mediterranean diet which studies show can help reduce inflammation within 6 weeks.

Soy

Soflavones, estrogen-like compounds found in soy products, may help lower CRP and inflammation levels in women.  Try adding soy milk, tofu, soy nuts and endame into your diet. Avoid processed soy products as it probably wont have the same positive effects.

Apart from these few foods I have listed above there are many more inflammation fighting foods including ginger, turmeric, berries, pineapple and avocado. By adjusting your diet to include raw, unprocessed foods will not only assist with inflammation but also your overall wellbeing.

References

http://courses.washington.edu/conj/inflammation/acuteinflam.htm

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/anti-inflammatory-diet-road-to-good-health

An Insight into Food Additives

List of additives

Did you know there are over 300 food additives used in Australian food. These artificial food preservatives, food colors and flavour enhancers, can be dangerous and are known to be linked to hyperactivity, Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD), asthma, cancer, poisonings and other negative medical conditions. The scary fact is, that Australia considers some of these additives to be ‘safe’, where as some of our neighbouring countries have banned or limited its use in foods.

The reason why they are used in our foods is often to improve taste, appearance or keep the ingredients from separating. Some debate that because we live in such a big country, the additives assist with keeping the foods fresh when travelling to its destination.

The website ABC Health and Wellbeing states that the functions of food additives are separated into the following catagories.
• adding or restoring colour to foods (artificial colours have code numbers in 100s)
• preventing food from ‘going off’ (preservatives have code numbers in 200s)
• slowing or preventing the oxidative deterioration of foods (antioxidants have code numbers in 300s)
• improving the flavour of food (food enhancers have code numbers in the 600s).

Additives

More on the different groups of additives: (source: Choice)

Preservatives have been associated with intolerances, particularly among people with asthma. Sulfites (including sodium bisulphite (222), sodium metabisulphite (223) and potassium bisulphite (228)) found in wine, beer and dried fruit, are known to trigger asthmatic episodes and cause migraines in people who are sensitive to them.

Also sodium nitrate (251) and sodium nitrite (250), which are used in processed meats, have been classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC).

Flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG) (621) is often used in Asian cooking and has been associated with ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’ (a collection of symptoms including headache, numbness and tingling that some people experienced after eating foods containing MSG).

Food colourings, such as tartrazine (102), allura red (129) and ponceau 4R (124), are often credited as the cause of hyperactivity in children.

We all lead such busy lifestyles where sometimes the easiest meal option is to purchase foods which have been processed and full of 50 odd ingredients. So how can you try limit your additive intake?

1. Find easy quick recipes which use fresh produce
2. Make extra so you are not stuck for lunch the following day
3. When shopping, make a list of some basic fresh produce which can be used in multiple recipes ie spinach, kale, celery, carrots, sweet potato, onions and herbs. And grains and nuts, brown rice, quinoa, almond meal.
4. Look for organic options which have little or no added colours or preservatives
5. Read those labels! If a loaf of bread contains 40 ingredients you know its probably not worth buying.

Check out my recipes section for some easy, clean meal ideas.

References

http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2013/02/14/3684208.htm
http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/food-and-health/food-and-drink/safety/food-additives.aspx
http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/avoid-risky-food-additives-preservatives/

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