Archive for August, 2012

August 23, 2012

Curry Night

by lrmetcalfe

To many of us, a curry on a Friday night is a weekend indulgence and is not to be considered a healthy habit. However, if you make your own curry from scratch using an array of spices and cut down on the ghee and oil, a curry can pack a strong nutritious punch!

 A great curry base starts with onions and garlic fried in a little oil.

Onions contain the sugars fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS. These compounds are only partially digested by humans, however the undigested portion feeds the intestinal microflora or ‘friendly bacteria’ present in the human gut. The microflora keep the intestines functioning healthily, whilst simultaneously reducing the population of harmful disease-causing bacteria.

Garlic is renowned for its medicinal properties. A great remedy for colds and flu it is antibiotic and anti-viral, garlic has also has been found to loosen catarrh. It regulates blood pressure and lowers cholesterol.

 Next to add a kick of heat- chilli pepper and ginger…

Chilli peppers encourage blood flow and improve circulation. Chilli pepper or capsicum has become an increasingly popular weight loss remedy due to its effects on the body’s metabolism.  Diet-induced thermogenesis is the amount of extra energy used by the body to process food for use and storage. Chilli pepper is believed to increase this.

Ginger root has an anti-inflammatory effect, a useful remedy for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. It aids digestion by encouraging gastric secretion; it has carminative and anti-spasmodic properties, a popular remedy for stomach complaints and nausea.

Once the chilli, ginger, onions and garlic have started to brown, add the spices…

Cumin- A traditional Indian remedy for indigestion.

Coriander- Useful remedy for flatulence and colic.

Turmeric- Powerful anti-inflammatory, useful for arthritis and inflammatory skin disorders such as eczema. Inhibits the growth of H.pylori, the bacteria commonly responsible for peptic ulcers.

Black Pepper- Contains piperine which encourages the absorption of nutrients.

Cloves- Popular topical remedy for toothache, acts as a mild anaesthetic, also has a powerful antiseptic effect.

Cinnamon- Can help to normalise blood sugar levels.

Cardamom- Useful remedy for flatulence and colic, soothes the digestive system.

Once you can smell the aromas from the spices add tinned tomatoes.

Tomatoes contain vitamins C & A, both important for a healthy immune system. Tomatoes are also the biggest dietary source of the powerful antioxidant lycopene, the component which makes the tomato red.  Don’t worry about using tinned tomatoes over fresh, as unusually lycopene has even greater bioavailability after cooking and processing.

Research continues into the anti-cancer properties of tomatoes.

Now you have a great curry sauce to add your favourite protein to- chicken, lamb, king prawns, lentils, paneer and white fish are all tasty choices. Just make sure to buy lean meat or cut off any fat.

Serve with brown rice and a little natural yoghurt and you will be hard pushed to find a tastier, more nutritious meal for your Friday night treat.

August 2, 2012

The Aromatherapy Medicine Chest

by lrmetcalfe

Essential Oils and a simple base oil can provide a variety of remedies to everyday complaints.

Firstly keep a base or carrier oil handy, most essential oils must be combined with a base oil to dilute them. The cheapest and easiest to find of the base oils are almond oil or a good quality olive oil, these can both be found at your local supermarket.

The essential oils can be found at your local health shop or at some larger pharmacies. Once purchased they last for a long time and can be used for a wide variety of problems. Keep these five essential oils stored in a cool dark place with your first aid kit and you may be surprised at how effective these remedies can be.

Lavender
One of the most popular and well-known essential oils. For stress dot a little on your wrists and temples for a soothing effect; dot on your pillow or add 5 drops to an evening bath if you can’t sleep at night.
For burns or insect bites apply neat to the affected area 3 times a day. Or add a few drops to a plain emollient cream for eczema or dermatitis.

Tea Tree
A valuable part of any first aid kit as it has anti-septic, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
Dab onto spots and boils, or for wide-spread acne, add a few drops to a plain facial wash or shower gel and use daily.
As an anti-fungal apply tea tree oil using cotton wool to athlete’s foot, fungal nail infections or ringworm. Sufferers of vaginal thrush can add a few drops to their bath to soothe the irritation.
At the onset of a sore throat or a mouth ulcer gargle with warm water to which 4 drops of tea tree oil has been added.
To prevent head lice, add tea tree oil to a plain shampoo and conditioner or rub a little oil behind the ears, around the hair line.

Rosemary
Rosemary is excellent for soothing aching muscles when added to a base oil and used for massage, alternatively add 5 drops to a hot bath.
A good tonic for the hair, warm your base oil and a few drops of rosemary, rub into the scalp to encourage hair growth, release tension in the head and to prevent dandruff.
For colds, flu or sinus problems add a couple of drops to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam to clear the catarrh.
Dot onto your wrists and temples whilst studying or during an exam as Rosemary is believed to keep the mind clear and alert.

Roman Chamomile
A good essential oil to use with children and babies, as it is mild and gentle. Use a drop in a child’s bath at night to soothe them to sleep. Stomach ache, colic or indigestion can be eased by adding a couple of drops of chamomile to a base oil and massaging gently into the stomach and lower back in a clockwise direction.
Roman Chamomile is a useful oil for skin care, especially in cases where the skin is inflamed, dry, sore or sensitive, add a few drops to a plain lotion or base oil and massage daily into the affected area.

Peppermint Oil
A popular and well- known essential oil. Great for treating digestive complaints, add to a base oil and massage gently into the stomach in a clockwise direction to ease constipation.
Peppermint can be combined with a base oil or petroleum jelly and rubbed onto the chest to clear catarrh during a cold or flu alternatively add 3 drops in the bath or use for steam inhalation.
A few drops of Peppermint sniffed from a tissue may alleviate nausea or the symptoms of shock.
Combined with lavender, peppermint can ease a headache or migraine; add a drop of each to a base oil massage into the scalp and neck and dot on the temples.

Essential oils should be used in small amounts and should usually be diluted before use. Always complete a ‘patch test’ before using an essential oil for the first time. Some essential oils are not suitable for use during pregnancy, on young children or on those who suffer from epilepsy or other medical conditions. If in doubt please consult your doctor first.

August 2, 2012

Holistic Holiday Checklist

by lrmetcalfe

Getting ready to leave the downpour of Britain and jet off into the sunshine? Here are a few holistic essentials to get you prepared for a perfect holiday!

Probiotic Supplement

Do you suffer from Delhi Belly or Travellers Tummy when you’re on holiday? Then a probiotic supplement should definitely be on your holiday packing list. Probiotic bacteria or ‘friendly bacteria’, naturally inhabit our digestive systems, they have many functions. Probiotic bacteria help the immune system to fight off ‘pathogenic bacteria’ which cause disease and illness in the body. They also help to maintain proper digestive function. Taking a supplement of probiotic bacteria for the month before you travel and whilst you’re on holiday may help to counteract the effects that foreign bacteria, poor quality drinking water and unusual foods may have on our digestive tracts. After all who wants to waste their holiday suffering from an upset stomach? To find a high quality probiotic supplement go to your local health food store and speak to the advisors, they will be able to help. Alternatively stock up on natural live yoghurt and friendly bacteria yoghurt drinks from the supermarket and eat these daily to get a dietary hit of probiotic bacteria.

Aloe Vera Gel

Pure Aloe Vera gel is one of nature’s best remedies for burns, so instead of the after-sun pack a tube of aloe vera gel, it has a cooling and moisturising effect on sun burnt skin. Look for a pure gel from your local health shop or pharmacy and slather it on when you come in from a day of sunbathing!

Ward off insect bites with Citronella oil and B vitamins!

Citronella candles are available in many camping stores and citronella oil is added to many sun creams now to ward away insects. Citronella oil is an unpleasant smell to insects, who avoid this aromatic citrus oil. Why not create your own insect repellent, purchase a bottle of citronella oil from your local health shop or pharmacy and add a drop to your sun cream, or dot on the pillows and sheets in your hotel for a cheap and effective way to keep insects away. Or add to a diffuser bottle of water and spray away!

Another way to combat insect bites is to take a good quality B vitamin supplement before you go on holiday, make sure the supplement is high in Vitamin B1 (50-100mg). Take for two weeks before you leave and during your holiday to make your blood unpleasant to mosquitoes and insects. Garlic has the same effect, but make sure you take a high quality aged garlic supplement.

Ginger

Ginger is a must have for sufferers of travel sickness. Stock up on ginger beer, tea, sweets or biscuits and slowly sip or chew before and during your journey. Or visit your local health shop for Ginger essential oil, put a couple of drops on a tissue and sniff during your journey.

Get prepared and have a wonderful holiday!

August 2, 2012

Get Moving!

by lrmetcalfe

Suffering from Olympic Fever? If you’re hooked and feel motivated to get moving here’s a summary of Olympic sports you could try without much cost or sporting skill!

Badminton
Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two or four players . Badminton is easy to learn and less demanding than other racquet sports. Its popularity is increasing as is the amount of Badminton clubs in the UK.

It’s easy to get started, 2 racquets and a shuttlecock can be picked up for a reasonable price from sports suppliers and even supermarkets during the summer.

Many leisure centers and gyms have badminton courts available for use; you could join a club or just set up a net in your own back garden!

Badminton can be as strenuous or as light a workout as you make it. Either way, the entire body is used due to the large range of movement the sport demands; it’s  a great cardiovascular workout and can improve balance and co-ordination. Also the range of strokes stretches your muscles and improves their flexibility.

Play 30 minutes of low impact Badminton and you could burn up to 139 calories!

Badminton is a good way to get into racquet sports, and is easy enough for the whole family to enjoy.

Football
Football is arguably the most followed and played sport in the UK. It is easy to get started just grab a football and get down to the park or in the garden for a kick about!

To take it to the next level, join your local football club or arrange a 5-a-side with your friends, you could club together to hire the facilities at your closest leisure centre.

Football is a great cardiovascular exercise and it can help to improve balance and hand-eye co- ordination. Football also encourages flexibility in the muscles and joints.

Swimming
Not just a refreshing way to cool down in the summer heat, swimming is one of the best forms of exercise you can take up.

If you use a variety of strokes, swimming works practically every muscle in the body. A great cardiovascular exercise, and gentle on your joints. It can be enjoyed alone or with your family or friends. Swimming encourages endurance, muscle strength and flexibility.

So get out your bathing suit out and start splashing to burn up to 217 calories for 30 minutes of light-effort swimming.

Cycling
A fantastic exercise to enjoy with your family, cycling is also easy to fit into your daily routine, so leave the car behind and cycle to work or to the shops!

Cycling is becoming more and more accessible in the UK, cycle lanes on roads are increasing. There are many designated cycle routes throughout parks and the British countryside, if you want to enjoy the scenery as you ride.

Cycling, completed in the great outdoors will also encourage your body to produce Vitamin D, as the sunlight hits your exposed skin. Vitamin D is essential for bone and immune health.

Low impact, so easier on the joints than other exercises, it is still a great cardiovascular workout that you can take at your own pace. A leisurely 30 minute bike ride can burn up to 124 calories.

Before setting off make sure your bike is fitted with lights and reflectors and you are wearing a suitable helmet. Ensure you regularly check the condition of your bike, for more information on what to look for, visit the Bike4Life website.

In conclusion, it doesn’t matter which sport or exercise you choose just get moving! All exercise will burn calories, improve the health of your heart and encourage the release of mood-enhancing endorphins….so what are you waiting for!