Posts tagged ‘holistics’

December 16, 2013

The Healthier Side of Christmas

by lrmetcalfe

cranberries

Christmas tends to be a time of year, when we splurge and eat too much of  the foods we know we really shouldn’t be eating.  However a lot of traditional Christmas foods, have brilliant nutritional benefits- so why not top up your Christmas diet with these goodies, and cut back on the naughties!

 

 

Cranberries

Cranberry sauce is a Christmas staple but cranberries are a superfood that you should enjoy all year round.
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants. Preliminary studies show that drinking cranberry juice is good for the health of the heart. Cranberries have also been shown to help maintain a healthy urinary tract, so may be useful for those who suffer from urinary tract infections.

 

 

Chestnuts

Chestnuts are different from other nuts- they are low in fat and have high a starch content, this means that they are low GL and make you feel fuller for longer.
Chestnuts are high in vitamin C, potassium, copper, magnesium, amino acids and antioxidants.
Chestnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid, which are beneficial to cardiovascular health.

 

 

Brussel Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin A, C, folic acid, potassium and calcium.
They are a good source of antioxidants, including the antioxidant Zeaxanthin, which studies show, is linked to preventing retinal age-related macular degeneration disease in the elderly.
Brussels sprouts are very high in fibre and protein.

 

 

Christmas Spices

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

Cinnamon- Can help to normalise blood sugar levels.

Ginger- 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.

September 16, 2013

1, 2, 3…..Breathe…..

by lrmetcalfe

breathAfter a long break, I recently started practicing yoga again; and was amazed at how powerful I find this activity.

Due to back problems, I now have to stick to the basics- warm up stretches, simple postures and breathing exercises; however controlling my breathing is the part of yoga I find most effective.

It’s during the breathing exercises that I feel most relaxed, I often feel inspired or have new ideas, as my mind is cleared and becomes more focussed.

Breathing is the most basic of all human functions, if we stopped breathing in and out we would cease to be- yet we all take breathing for granted. We never think of the power that we can have over our health and our bodies if we took a few minutes each day to focus on the breath.

You may be surprised at the changes you notice just controlling your breathing for even 5 minutes a day. Try  sitting down and focussing on your normal breath for a few minutes, then start to control it- breathe in and out, slowly and deeply, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.

 

There are many breathing techniques, some extremely simple, others take a little more time to master. If you attend a basic yoga class the teacher will be able to show you many effective techniques. I want to mention a few of my favourites in this post:

Basic Abdominal Breathing/ Low Breathing

If you ask most people to take a deep breath in, we immediately suck in our stomach and force in a sharp inhalation of air through the nose. This is incorrect.

Inhalation occurs when the lungs expand to take in air, air is then exhaled when the lungs contract.

Focus on slowly expanding the abdomen as you inhale through the nose, hold your tummy still for a second and then slowly exhale out through the nose pulling your tummy in. Place your hand on the tummy to help you focus on breathing into this area. It can take a little getting used to at first.

Once you’ve mastered this, try counting while you inhale and exhale- in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 8- increase the numbers you count to as you become more practiced.

 

Full Breathing/ Complete Breathing

Full breathing is the deepest possible breathing. It involves the shoulders, collarbone, ribs, abdomen and diaphragm. Once you have mastered abdominal breathing, you can move on to this more difficult technique.

  • Lie on the floor and tilt your chin into your chest a little.
  • Keep the mouth shut, you should only be inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
  • Breath into your tummy, expand the abdomen.
  • Let the breath move up the torso and expand the diaphragm and rib cage
  • Then try and expand your chest, raise the shoulders a little towards the ears.
  • Feel the breath create warmth in the throat. As you inhale, you should also hear a sound in the throat.
  • Slowly exhale, lower the shoulders and chest, relax the ribs, relax the diaphragm, slowly relax and pull in the abdomen. The slower the better. Use counting to help you maintain control.

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

My favourite technique, this exercise is extremely relaxing.

Get comfortable- sit on a chair, on the floor or lie down. If you are seated keep your spine erect and shoulders relaxed.

Place your left hand at your side or on the left knee, palms open to the sky.

Close the index finger and middle finger of the right hand in towards your palm. Keep the fingers in this position throughout.

  • Place the ring finger and little finger on the left nostril, to breathe in through the right nostril
  • Gently press your thumb down on the right nostril and breathe out gently through the left nostril
  • Then inhale through the left nostril
  • Press the left nostril gently with the ring finger and little finger, to exhale through the right nostril.
  • Repeat this for 5 rounds to begin with, increasing the number of rounds when you are ready.

After every exhalation, remember to breathe in from the same nostril from which you exhaled. Keep your eyes closed throughout.

 

Try and do a little deep breathing each day. It is especially good when you’ve had a tiring or hectic day. Breathing is not only relaxing but energising, so, you can also use it to give yourself a boost. Why not swap your mid-morning coffee for 5 minutes of controlled breathing!

In addition these breathing techniques have many other healthy benefits. Controlled deep breathing….

  • kick-starts the metabolism
  • improves the condition of the core muscles, improving posture.
  • encourages elasticity in the lung tissue, allowing you to take in more oxygen.
  • tones the abdomen.
  • strengthens the immune system.
  • is useful for sufferers of respiratory conditions.
  • reduces levels of tension and anxiety.

So what are you waiting for! Controlled breathing can be done anywhere, by anyone, all ages and abilities.

So breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeathe!