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how to choose a good egg

Fresh-Free-Range-Organic-Chicken-EggsHealth benefits of eggs

Eggs are a fabulous food, as they are nutritious, versatile and quick. Not only are eggs a perfect source of protein, they also contain nutrients that are beneficial to the eyes, hair, brain and nervous system.

Eggs are a good source of antioxidants, fat soluble vitamins A and D, the essential fatty acid omega 3. They also contain the amino acid tryptophan and B vitamins, for a healthy nervous system.

Contrary to popular belief, eggs are actually good for the heart and cardiovascular system. Research now shows that they have a protective effect against blood, clots, heart attacks and strokes and their dietary cholesterol content, does not raise unhealthy cholesterol levels in the body.

 

Choosing quality eggs

When choosing quality eggs, unfortunately the current labelling laws in Australia prevent us from being able to make honest and informed choices.

There is much corruption in the system and consumer fraud, as supermarkets attempt to meet the needs of there customers, who wish to by humane eggs, by putting pressure on the suppliers to produce large volumes of eggs, that they can use for their private labels.

Current discussions are taking place between small and large egg producers, animal welfare agencies and government about national egg production standards.

Hopefully the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will make a move towards regulating the egg industry nationally.

 

Understanding egg lingo

Free-range
Birds are housed in sheds, with access to an outdoor range, unfortunately this range varies greatly from around 1,500 birds per hectare, to 20,000 per hectare.

In 2013, a farm in Young, NSW was found to have around 80,000 “free range” hens in an area of 1.6 ha. They were forced to cull half of the birds, due to an outbreak of bird flu.

The Queensland government approved an increase in free-range layer hen stocking densities in July 2013, from 1,500 to 10,000.

Coles and Woolworths have been selling free-range labelled eggs that come from farms with 10,000 birds per hectare.

Free range doesn’t mean the hens have been fed any differently from caged birds, they could be eating the same animal-derived products, or genetically modified grains that’s usually fed to cage birds.

Organic
These are the most expensive choice for eggs, however if they are certified organic, you can be sure that the hens are fed quality, non-gm feed, which ensures natural egg producing cycles. They are also free to wander on pasture, unlike other chickens that are kept indoors, or only let outdoors infrequently. (This includes free-range.) Organic eggs also contain higher levels of the essential omega-3 fatty acids, than other eggs.

Cage-eggs
Hens are continuously housed in cages, within a shed.

Barn laid
Birds are free to roam within a shed, which may have more than one level.

Cage free
means that chickens live entirely indoors in barns.

 

How to choose a quality egg

  • Choose third-part certified free range eggs, it will state this on the box.
  • Look for the Humane Choice logo on cartons www.humanechoice.com.au
  • Visit www.animalwelfarelabels.org.au which lists farming practices of individual egg producers.
  • Buy certified organic eggs.
  • Shop at local shops or markets, for eggs with independent free-range certification.
  • Look for “Free range pastured” or “pasture ranged organic” labels which are being used by true free-range producers.
  • Buy your own chickens.

 

 

 

 

 

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which supergreens are best for your body type?

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Supergreens

What are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat? If your thinking green leafy vegetables, you’d be right.

Studies repeatedly show that raw green leaves lower the risk of heart disease and cancer and act as a health tonic for the brain, immune system and kidneys. The problem is that most people don’t get enough of these foods and so miss out on their incredible health promoting qualities.

This is where concentrated supergreens, such as green barley grass and spirulina come to the rescue. A daily dose of these powdered green foods provides a concentrated hit of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein, keeping your body healthy and helping protect it from disease.

The most popular greenfoods come in the form of grasses or water algae’s, available in powdered, tablet or liquid form. They can be included in the diet by sprinkling them on food, in smoothies or simply mixed with water or juice.

Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives green food its colour. Many of the health benefits attributed to supergreens, comes from the high chlorophyll content. It’s for this reason that we are advised to eat dark leafy greens where the content is more concentrated.

The structure of chlorophyll is very similar to human blood and studies have shown that when consumed, the production of hemoglobin is increased, meaning more oxygen rich blood reaches the cells, an essential element to good health.

Chlorophyll is the ideal anti-ageing solution due to its ability to renew tissue, build blood and detoxify the body. It also boosts the immune system, counteracts inflammation and improves digestive function.  If that wasn’t enough, it also helps to strengthen the heart, reduce cholesterol and give you sweet smelling breath!

It’s generally considered that all supergreens are good for most people, however there are some distinct differences between them that limit there use in some instances and make them more appropriate in others.

 

Wheat and Green Barley Grass

The most commonly known of the green foods, with similar therapeutic properties. Although derived from wheat and barley people are almost never allergic to them in their grass stage, as gluten is no longer present.

Unique to the grasses are the high levels of nutrients, especially the B vitamins, including B12, which is often lacking in the vegetarian and vegan diet. Also present are hundreds of enzymes that help in the digestion of foods, as well as potent anti-oxidants that slow down tissue degeneration.

In studies these amazing grasses have shown to stimulate the renewal of cellular DNA, severely damaged by X-ray. For this reason they are highly recommend before and after exposure to radiation, for example during x-ray’s and air travel.

Further studies have also witnessed remarkable anti-inflammatory properties in cases of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, such as ulcers, gastritis, and pancreatitis, with results being more successful than steroids, with the added benefit of no side-effects or toxicity.

Cereal grasses are cooling and clear toxins very quickly, they have an affinity with the digestive system and help with sluggish livers, slow digestion and inflammatory conditions of the gut.

People who tend to suffer from the cold and have a weak constitution should use cereal grasses in moderation and may consider chlorella or spirulina instead.


Wild Blue Green Algae

This bitter, cooling superfood is perfect if you need to loose weight or feel tired all the time. It helps strengthen the immune system and fights viruses, colds and flu. Blue green algae is very strong so should be taken wisely and not by people in fragile conditions who are thin, dry and feel the cold.

This algae is excellent for the robust, overweight person who has eaten too much meat, eggs, dairy and rich foods, and feels sluggish and depressed as a result.

Wild blue green algae is also beneficial in the treatment of chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, candida and excessive mucus conditions, it is excellent for depression.

 

Spirulina

Spirulina contains higher amounts of protein than meat, in fact it is 70% protein compared to red meat which is roughly 25% protein when cooked. Animal protein is craved less once spirulina is added to the diet.

This fresh water algae is also wonderful for controlling blood sugars and food cravings and therefore benefits diabetics and people with blood sugar issues.

Spirulina helps to strengthen body tissues, especially connective tissue making them more elastic and resilient; it is also strongly anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for the physically active, elderly people, and those in need of strengthening the heart and vascular system.

 

Chlorella

The least cooling of the grasses and algae’s, chlorella is the safest choice for people who are weak and frail and the best green food for children who are failing to thrive.

Unique to Chlorella is its nucleic acid, content which is essential for cellular renewal, growth and repair. The amount of nucleic acid decreases with age, therefore Chlorella is most suitable as an anti-ageing food, for boosting the immune system, and healing injuries.

Chlorella also contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids making it highly beneficial in reducing cholesterol but is not an effective food for the treatment of weight issues.

Like any supplement, continuing to eat a poor diet whilst trying to overcome the damage with supergreens is counterproductive. The very best results will be achieved as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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protein power

Have you ever wondered why eating food rich in protein is good for you? High protein, low carbohydrate diets have certainly received a lot of press regarding their potential for weight loss, and a strong perception exists that in order to increase muscle mass you need to consume a lot of protein foods but what about the actual health benefits?

Our bodies are mainly made up of water (approximately 65%) but did you know that the second major ingredient that makes up your body at 25% is protein. This significant macronutrient contributes to the formation of skin, hair, nails, eyes and the internal organs, especially the heart muscle and brain. Our immune systems also require protein in order to function effectively, as do our oxygen carrying red blood cells and essential hormones such as insulin and thyroid that regulate our metabolism.

Proteins are made up of individual amino acids, twenty five of which are found in a wide variety of foods. Different amino acids combine in order to form proteins that go on to make cells and organs. Out of the twenty five amino acids, eight are known as essential, as they cannot be made inside the body, like the other seventeen, so we need to receive them through our food in order for our body to function.

Protein from animal sources such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs are rich in all eight essential amino acids and are called complete proteins. Due to the prevalence of these foods in the western diet, protein deficiency is rare and in fact excess can exist which may result in strain on the kidneys and liver, also a depletion in calcium.

Despite many people considering plant sources inferior to animal products in terms of there protein content, the plant world offers a wide range of options that are lower in fat and easily assimilated by the body, making them very valuable. A team of Harvard scientists studying vegetarian diets concluded that “It’s difficult to obtain a mixed vegetable diet which will produce an appreciable loss of body protein”

Vegetarian foods such as legumes, grains, nuts and seeds do not individually contain all essential amino acids like animal products, so are known as incomplete proteins. It’s for this reason that it has been advised to combine plant foods, in order to make the protein content complete. A classic example of a complete protein vegetarian meal, is the Indian dish of lentil Dahl and rice. Whilst combining legumes, nuts and seeds at each meal is ideal, it is not considered necessary. As long as these foods are eaten throughout the day, the body will store the amino acids and combine them when needed.

How much protein you eat largely depends on the individual, however as a general guide an average adult woman may need approximately 45grams per day whilst a man up to 55grams. During pregnancy, breastfeeding and convalescence needs are higher. This translates to around two serves of beans, lentils, quinoa or other vegetable protein consumed daily, or one small serving of meat, fish or cheese, or one egg.

Protein content of vegetarian foods

Food Serving size Grams per serve
Tempeh 1 cup 41
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 15
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 15
Tofu, firm 1/2 cup 11
Quinoa, cooked 1/2 cup 9
Amaranth 1 cup 7
Soy milk, 1 cup 7
Almonds 1/4 cup 8
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6
Whole wheat bread 2 slices 5
Cashews 1/4 cup 5
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 5

As for the belief that you can only increase muscle mass through high protein diets, studies show that weight-trainers who don’t eat extra protein still gain muscle at the same rate as weight-trainers who supplement their diets with protein through either food or powder. It’s also interesting to note that a high protein diet shows no more appreciable weight loss than other carbohydrate rich diets, when studied over a period of one year.

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soy story

soy-picIf you want to be a healthy vegetarian you eat tofu, right? Or, if your baby or child has an allergy to dairy, then soy formula, milks, yogurt and cheese seem like an ideal solution. Even in the fitness world the food which was once considered as solely for hippies, has made its way into protein bars and shakes. Apparently soy is so good.

Like many foods there are pros and cons to eating soy and there is currently much confusion surrounding its health benefits. Soy was initially grown in large quantities for its oil, which was used in the manufacturing of margarine and as a shortening. Hydrogenated soy oil was the original trans-fat, a substance that we now know is extremely detrimental for health. Large amounts of soy proteins were left as a bi-product of making soy oil and nobody knew what to do with it. It was considered for landfill and as animal feed but these solutions were deemed too wasteful and toxic.

Marketing success story

In the mid 1980’s the US soy industry devised a marketing strategy to launch this humble bean as a health food and in the early 1990’s soy exploded onto the scene, promoted as a panacea for health issues such as osteoporosis, menopausal symptoms, heart disease and cancer. The main thrust of the campaign was to highlight that Asian populations suffered with very low incidence of these illnesses, which was due to their consumption of soy foods. In reality Asians eat small amounts of soy, in its natural or fermented form unlike in the west were soy foods are often highly processed, unfermented and eaten in large quantities.

There are several reasons why soy may cause problems in the body, one of which is that 90 – 95% of soy currently grown is genetically modified, manipulated to withstand high levels of a herbicide called glyphosate, which is responsible for upsetting the male and female reproductive cycles, which may contribute to fertility and menstrual issues, erectile dysfunction and low sperm count.

Even if you don’t drink soy milk or eat tofu, it’s likely that concentrated genetically modified soy protein has found it’s was into your bread, cheese, cereal and sauces and less staple foods such as meat, chocolate, mayonnaise, frozen meals and baked goods. This is because genetically modified soy is cheap to produce and a good filler or bulking agent for these foods. When eaten in small amounts daily these proteins may have a profound accumulative effect in the body and may be the reason we are seeing such a high incidence of soy allergy and intolerance.

You can recognise soy on supermarket labels as:

Soy flour
Soy oil
Soy protein isolates
TVP (textured vegetable protein)
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
TSP (textured soy protein)

Isoflavones

Soy contains hormonal mimics called isoflavones which can further disrupt the hormonal systems in the body, they also act as goitrogens, which have been linked to a suppression of thyroid function. People with an underactive thyroid are at particular risk and are advised to reduce or eliminate soy and other foods that have a similar goitregenic effect, such as broccoli and cabbage. When the thyroid is suppressed health problems result, such as anxiety, insomnia, digestive and behavioural problems, asthma, food allergies and a difficulty in loosing weight. Isoflavones are also known to have an oestrogen like effect in the body, potentially increasing the risk of developing oestrogen dependent cancers.

Of course these conditions may have a multi-faceted origin and to point the finger solely at soy would be irresponsible, however if you do suffer with any of the above conditions, it may well be worth checking your thyroid function and looking at how much soy is in your current diet. An elimination diet may help you to assess if soy is contributing to your health issues.

Is any soy beneficial?

The answer is yes. Fermented soy foods such as tempeh, miso, Japanese natto and naturally fermented soy sauce and shoyu have been shown to lower the incidence of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and dementia.

These delicious natural foods also protect against lung, liver and prostate cancer and contain high levels of the blood clotting regulator vitamin K which also assists in the vital health supporting work of vitamin D.

The process of fermentation breaks down the high levels of phytic acid found in soy beans, which is a naturally occurring substance also found in beans, grains, nuts and seeds. Phytic acid binds up minerals in the body, so it’s important to remove it through soaking or fermenting. Soybeans are also high in enzyme inhibitors, including one that stops trypsin from working properly, an enzyme which is essential for digestion. Fermenting helps to remove these enzyme inhibitors and at the same time makes the protein more digestible.

It’s important to note however that fermentation does not eliminate or reduce the isoflavone content and action of soy foods.

Vegetarians & Vegans

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan who has relied upon soy products as a major source of protein, take heart in the knowledge that most foods contain protein and if you include nuts, seeds, soaked beans and protein rich grains such as quinoa and amaranth, you will fulfill your protein requirements nicely without relying on soy sausages and other unhealthful foods. If you have switched your dairy milk for soy, consider alternating with other delicious alternatives such as oat, rice and almond milk.

If you wish to include soy foods in the diet, it would appear that only small amounts of soy are suitable for children and pregnant women due to the oestrogenic effect and giving soy formula to babies is far from ideal, in the same way that dairy is an unsuitable replacement for breast milk. It would appear that many of the health issues that people have with soy may be largely down to the low quality genetically modified soy proteins that proliferate in processed foods, therefore checking food labels would be a wise choice. The ideal soy to include in the diet would be GM free and fermented such as miso, tempeh and naturally fermented soy sauce, used in moderation as Asian cultures do rather than as the cornerstone to any diet.

For more information on soy visit www.wholesoystory.com and www.westonprice.org

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blood sugar blues

Do you ever feel irritable, anxious and dizzy, or suffer from fatigue, poor concentration and food cravings? If you do, chances are that your suffering from low blood sugar.

Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, literally means low levels of glucose in the blood, one of the most common and least recognized disorders of modern life. As well as the symptoms already mentioned, unstable blood sugars can develop into diabetes, weight gain and immune dysfunction.

Causes of low blood sugars include a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and grains, stress, skipping meals and kick-starting the body with sugar and caffeine.

These food and lifestyle factors release large amounts of glucose rapidly into the blood, causing the release of the hormone insulin, which lowers the levels of blood sugars by transporting glucose into cells to be used as energy, or storing it in the muscles, or as fat.

Having sharp highs and lows of glucose in the blood, is very stressful for the body, causing immediate symptoms such as irritability, dizziness and hunger but over time can lead to more chronic and serious conditions such as impossible weight loss, depression and heart problems.

Ideally we should have a slow release of glucose into the blood stream which moderates the release of insulin if we wish to achieve good physical and emotional health and optimum weight. Nutrition is the key to achieving these goals.

Foods that cause a sharp rise in blood sugars and insulin are generally sugar and refined carbohydrates such a pasta, white rice, bread and sweets. Other foods that convert into glucose very rapidly include, carbohydrates such as cooked sweet vegetables, potatoes, some fruits, juices and dried fruit.

In order to balance blood sugars it’s important to reduce the amount of refined carbohydrate foods in the diet and ensure that adequate amounts of protein, fat and fibre are eaten with every meal, as they slow the rate of digestion and absorption or glucose, which in turn modifies the release of insulin,

The following dietary considerations will also greatly help to address this condition.

Do

Eat little and often. It helps to carry something to snack on when you’re away from home. Almonds and walnuts are abundant in healthy fats and protein, they are also filling and high in beneficial fibre.

Eat small amounts of unrefined carbohydrates in the form of wholegrains such as millet, quinoa and brown rice. These superfoods are high in fiber, iron and b vitamins, and are a great source or protein.

Include quality protein with every meal such as meat, fish, poultry and eggs, pulses including lentils and chickpeas and any nuts and seeds.

Breakfast is an important meal, as our blood sugars are at there lowest in the morning. Try to eat at the same time everyday, ideally within half an hour of getting up.

Include beneficial fats with each meal such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados. They will help you to feel satisfied and slow down the release of sugars into your blood stream.

Drink lots of plain water.

Avoid

Eating sugar, which includes natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup. The more severe your symptoms the stricter you will have to be.

Avoid consuming refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and pasta.

Dried fruit and fruit juices are a concentrated form of sugar so are best avoided when trying to balance blood sugars.

Drinking alcohol, coffee or tea causes the adrenal glands to release store glucose into the blood stream, causing insulin to be released.

Being late for or skipping meals can exacerbate blood sugar problems

It can be difficult at first to cut down the carbohydrates in our daily diet, as they are highly addictive and comforting, however the benefits of achieving a calm and peaceful mind and body, sustained energy, good concentration and ideal weight are well worth the effort.

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intolerable food

If you, like me, have a food intolerance you will know how frustrating it can be when visiting a café or restaurant, when trying to find dishes that are safe to eat.
Unfortunately most people still lack understanding when it comes to the powerful and negative effect that certain foods can have on a person, however awareness is growing and the quantity and quality of substitute foods, recipe books and resources has never been greater.
Food intolerance is far more common in adults than food allergies but for some reason has not been taken as seriously. Symptoms of intolerance can be similar to that of an allergy, however the body’s responses are quite different.

Allergic reactions are usually immediate and involve immune system IgE antibodies, symptoms of allergic reaction can be acute such a wheezing, swelling, rashes and vomiting and will occur through eating even the smallest amount of the problem food.
Food intolerance responses can take between 1 and 48 hours to develop and are caused by a lack of specific enzymes and chemicals needed to break down and digest foods. Other causes may be the bodies reaction to naturally occurring food chemicals such as salicylates found in foods like apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and wine, or amines found in chocolate, cheese, bananas, avocado or tomato. The body may also react to artificial additives and preservatives.
Intolerant reactions can be mild and are usually related to the amount of the food consumed, symptoms include fatigue and aching joints, skin problems, weight issues, digestive disorders and respiratory conditions. Food intolerance has also been associated with asthma, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome.

Although it’s possible to have an intolerance to a wide variety of foods, the most common are those that contain gluten (wheat, oats, barley and rye), lactose (milk and dairy products), wheat, yeast and fructose( found in common foods such as apples, pears, onions and asparagus). By treating the underlying intolerance by avoiding trigger foods, related sensitivities may disappear.

If you suspect that the underlying cause of your health problem may be a food intolerance, your health care provider can refer you for testing. It’s important to know however, that even if tests come back negative, you may still have a low grade sensitivity to the suspected food and the best way to determine if it’s effecting your health, is to leave it out of your diet for three weeks and then slowly introduce the food and observe your symptoms over a 48 hour period. Naturopaths are also trained to assist in improving overall digestive health which can significantly help in the management of food intolerance.

As for the tricky task of socialising, well when in a restaurant or café situation never feel overly demanding or difficult when requesting to know what is in your food, the staff should know what’s in there dishes and in fact it may soon be mandatory. As for those tricky meals with the family or friends, try not to apologise for being inconvenient and stick to your guns, it’s your health you are looking after and you never know your host may learn a thing or two about there own health by observing your example.

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cooking with fats & oils

When it comes to avoiding unhealthy food, anything deep fried comes pretty high up on the list. Why? Well, applying high temperatures to fats and oils changes their molecular structure turning them into toxic substances that are very detrimental to the health of our cells, causing oxidation and free radicals that create potential for heart disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases.

So, choosing steamed or grilled foods over fried is certainly beneficial to health which we are all aware of, however what about the fats and oils that we use in cooking everyday, for sautéing onions, stir-frying, roasting and baking? Although these foods are no deep fried the fats and oils used are still brought to a high temperature and therefore become damaged in the same way.

Although frying and deep frying destroys all oils and is not recommended for health, there are some simple solutions when it comes to reducing the amount of damaged fats consumed through home cooking, that come down to technique and oils that are less damaged at temperature than others.

Water Frying
When a recipe calls for sautéing or frying with oil, try water frying instead. You don’t need a lot of water just enough to cover the base of the pan or pot and then once it’s bubbling away you can add a small amount of oil if you wish or leave it out all together, adding the fat or oil at the end of cooking so that the meal remains nutritionally balanced and flavourful.

Hot pot
Another tip when it comes to cooking with fats and oils is to add them to a heated pot or pan, never slosh them in to a cold pan an bring them up to heat that way as they will damage more easily which is not only unhealthy but can add a nasty flavour to your cooking.

Oils to avoid
Vegetable oils are bad news I’m afraid, the worst offenders being corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola. These omega 6 containing oils are responsible for many more health issues than saturated fats are highly damaged and refined, with the oils being heat extracted and hydrogenated leading to trans fat content. Like margarine which is treated in a similar fashion, these products are best left on the shelf.

Saturated fats in cooking
Despite the negativity and fear surrounding saturated fats, they are in fact the safest fats to cook with as there chemical make up is not broken down and altered at temperature as easily as there mono and polyunsaturated cousins. The French had it right all along when they used butter in their cooking and I would encourage you to feel confident when using butter in cooking, after all mushrooms, leeks and butter are a marriage made in heaven!

Pure Virgin Coconut oil contains saturated fat and is the very best fat to cook with as it does not change it’s molecular structure at temperature at all, therefore does not cause damage to either the food or the cell. Not only that coconut oil has anti-viral and bacterial properties, can help support the thyroid and ironically promote weight loss and heart health. You can use coconut oil in place of any oil, fat or margarine in a recipe, I’ve found coconut oil to work particularly well in baking and Asian cookery and gives a really clean finish to food without a strong coconut flavour,

Olive oil
Over the last 10 years or so, we have become serious lovers of olive oil, not only for it’s health benefits but also for the delicious flavour and versatility. The very best olive oil to buy is the cold pressed virgin oil, as the extraction process means that the beneficial properties are intact due to no overheating. This oil is the one you want to slather on your salads, dress soups and stews with and dip crusty bread. You do not want to cook with it and another tip is to buy smaller bottles of oil, replace the cap after each use and store at cool temperature to avoid oxidation which happens very easily with this sensitive oil.
If you wish to cook with olive oil, save the expensive stuff for using cold and choose a cheaper refined olive oil for cooking as it will be more stable at temperature and will not damage as easily as the delicate cold pressed variety.

Other oils for cooking
Peanut and sesame oil also produce lower levels of toxic molecules when heated, so are a good choice when it comes to dishes that would be complemented by such flavours.

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supergreens

What are some of the most nutritious foods you can eat? If your thinking green leafy vegetables, you’d be right.

Studies repeatedly show that raw green leaves lower the risk of heart disease and cancer and act as a health tonic for the brain, immune system and kidneys. The problem is that most people don’t get enough of these foods and so miss out on their incredible health promoting qualities.

This is where concentrated supergreens, such as green barley grass and spirulina come to the rescue. A daily dose of these powdered green foods provides a concentrated hit of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and protein, keeping your body healthy and helping protect it from disease.

The most popular greenfoods come in the form of grasses or water algae’s, available in powdered, tablet or liquid form. They can be included in the diet by sprinkling them on food, in smoothies or simply mixed with water or juice.

Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives green food its colour. Many of the health benefits attributed to supergreens, comes from the high chlorophyll content. It’s for this reason that we are advised to eat dark leafy greens where the content is more concentrated.

The structure of chlorophyll is very similar to human blood and studies have shown that when consumed, the production of hemoglobin is increased, meaning more oxygen rich blood reaches the cells, an essential element to good health.

Chlorophyll is the ideal anti-ageing solution due to its ability to renew tissue, build blood and detoxify the body. It also boosts the immune system, counteracts inflammation and improves digestive function. If that wasn’t enough, it also helps to strengthen the heart, reduce cholesterol and give you sweet smelling breath!

Supergreens
It’s generally considered that all supergreens are good for most people, however there are some distinct differences between them that limit there use in some instances and make them more appropriate in others.

Wheat and Green Barley Grass
The most commonly known of the green foods, with similar therapeutic properties. Although derived from wheat and barley people are almost never allergic to them in their grass stage, as gluten is no longer present.

Unique to the grasses are the high levels of nutrients, especially the B vitamins, including B12, which is often lacking in the vegetarian and vegan diet. Also present are hundreds of enzymes that help in the digestion of foods, as well as potent anti-oxidants that slow down tissue degeneration.

In studies these amazing grasses have shown to stimulate the renewal of cellular DNA, severely damaged by X-ray. For this reason they are highly recommend before and after exposure to radiation, for example during x-ray’s and air travel.

Further studies have also witnessed remarkable anti-inflammatory properties in cases of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, such as ulcers, gastritis, and pancreatitis, with results being more successful than steroids, with the added benefit of no side-effects or toxicity.

Cereal grasses are cooling and clear toxins very quickly, they have an affinity with the digestive system and help with sluggish livers, slow digestion and inflammatory conditions of the gut.

People who tend to suffer from the cold and have a weak constitution should use cereal grasses in moderation and may consider chlorella or spirulina instead.

Wild Blue Green Algae
This bitter, cooling superfood is perfect if you need to loose weight or feel tired all the time. It helps strengthen the immune system and fights viruses, colds and flu. Blue green algae is very strong so should be taken wisely and not by people in fragile conditions who are thin, dry and feel the cold.

This algae is excellent for the robust, overweight person who has eaten too much meat, eggs, dairy and rich foods, and feels sluggish and depressed as a result.

Wild blue green algae is also beneficial in the treatment of chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, candida and excessive mucus conditions, it is excellent for depression.

Spirulina
Spirulina contains higher amounts of protein than meat, in fact it is 70% protein compared to red meat which is roughly 25% protein when cooked. Animal protein is craved less once spirulina is added to the diet.

This fresh water algae is also wonderful for controlling blood sugars and food cravings and therefore benefits diabetics and people with blood sugar issues.

Spirulina helps to strengthen body tissues, especially connective tissue making them more elastic and resilient; it is also strongly anti-inflammatory, making it ideal for the physically active, elderly people, and those in need of strengthening the heart and vascular system.

Chlorella
The least cooling of the grasses and algae’s, chlorella is the safest choice for people who are weak and frail and the best green food for children who are failing to thrive.

Unique to Chlorella is its nucleic acid, content which is essential for cellular renewal, growth and repair. The amount of nucleic acid decreases with age, therefore Chlorella is most suitable as an anti-ageing food, for boosting the immune system, and healing injuries.

Chlorella also contains high levels of omega 3 fatty acids making it highly beneficial in reducing cholesterol but is not an effective food for the treatment of weight issues.

Like any supplement, continuing to eat a poor diet whilst trying to overcome the damage with supergreens is counterproductive. The very best results will be achieved as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

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sugar highs

When it comes to sugary foods, I like many people experience times where such as Christmas and Easter, when too much of the white stuff is consumed and just like a good party, overindulging feels great at the time but can leave the body feeling pretty fragile once the good times stop rolling.

When our bodies have been knocked out of balance from too much sugar, we may struggle to get up in the morning and stay alert during the day. A foggy head, digestive problems, headaches and mood swings, including depression may also become issues.

These health problems result from the over-acidic nature of sugar and it’s leaching effect of valuable vitamins and minerals from the body. Refined sugar also puts pressure on organs such as the liver, kidneys and pancreas, as they try to detox the sugar out of the system.

Whilst a yearly Christmas binge may not have any long term implications, eating large amounts of sugar on a regular basis certainly will. We commonly associate too much sugar with dental caries, diabetes and obesity however the white stuff can also lead to poor immune function, an overgrowth of Candida, heart problems and high cholesterol. The effect of sugar on children’s intellectual development is an issue that we should all take very seriously.

The problem is that once you start consuming sugar, it can become ridiculously addictive and very difficult to quit. In fact, William Dufty in his book ‘Sugar Blues’ believes that the difference between sugar and narcotic addiction is largely one of degree.

Be aware that when trying to wean yourself of sugar you may suffer with withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, overwhelming cravings and mood swings, or you will be going along quite nicely then have a few pieces of chocolate and you will be back to square one with the cravings.

Another major hurdle to reducing sugar is it’s prevalence in so many processed foods, it’s not just cakes and sweets that contain refined sugars, large amounts can be found in everyday foods such as breakfast cereals, breads, sauces and dips. We have become so used to these high sugar flavours that we may no longer be able to taste the natural sweetness found in fruits and vegetables.

In order to break the sugar cycle, setting a date and feeling mentally committed to quitting can really help. Going cold turkey is definitely a challenge but within a few days cravings can be reduced. Avoid all refined sugar found in chocolates, cakes and biscuits, artificial sweeteners which are potent neurotoxins and the natural sweetness found in honey, maple syrup and dried fruits until things get under control.

Here are further tips to help you overcome the cravings and re-balance your system.

1. Recognise that the human body naturally craves carbohydrate for fuel, but respond to these cravings with slow release sugars found in whole grains breads and cereals and sweet vegetables such as carrot, beetroot and sweet potato.
2. Eat regular meals at roughly the same time everyday, making sure that you include quality protein in the form of lean meats, nuts, beans and pulses at every meal.
3. Always have a handful of nuts at hand, almonds are perfect, for those times when you feel your energy dropping and you need a boost.
4. Sour foods such as lemons, plain yogurt and fermented foods can curb sugar cravings.
5. Consider a chromium supplement which can help to get blood sugars into a healthy pattern.
6. When you do re-introduce sugar, try to include natural sweeteners such as raw honey and maple syrup, as they are closer to nature and contain vitamins and minerals, they are however still simple sugars so moderation is the key. Don’t be fooled by brown or raw sugar, it’s simply refined white sugar with the molasses added.

If your sweet tooth has spiraled out of control lately and you’re feeling at the mercy of your cravings, give these suggestions a try and watch your energy and focus return, your waistline shrink and your mood improve. Once you’re back in balance you may find that sugary foods no longer appeal but if you do indulge once in a while it will be from a place of pleasure rather than addiction.

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can bread be healthy?

From Indian naan to African injera bread, Italian ciabatta, baguettes, bagels and delicious Lebanese pitta, bread is a fundamental mainstay of peoples diets the world over.

Bread is deeply entwined in our daily lives, there have even been wars over it.  Millions start their day with a round of toast, fuel themselves with sandwiches and accompany an evening meal with a slice or two. Let’s face it a bowl of pasta or soup just wouldn’t be the same without a crusty loaf.

Humans have been eating grains for over 15,000 years and today 50% of the world’s population rely on them to provide more than half of their daily calorific needs, in some regions such as Indonesia up to 80%. So, why has such a dietary mainstay and enjoyable food become so intolerable to our digestive systems? It’s estimated that approximately 1 in 5 people are affected by wheat bread, resulting in a long list of symptoms that include bloating, fatigue, joint pains, muscle aches, depression, headaches and sinus problems?

Several years ago a client who had suffered with severe psoriasis for over 25 years, to the point of hiding his legs away in summer through embarrassment, began to see improvement in his symptoms after just one week on a wheat free diet.  How can a food wreak so much havoc in the body?

The answer may lie in the current way we grow grains and prepare bread. Wheat has become one of the top 17 foods that provide 90% of the worlds food supply, without it the world could not nutritionally support its 6 billion inhabitants.  Due to high demand modern wheat has been re-designed to work in harmony with artificial fertilizers and pesticides, at the expense of its vitamin and mineral content, leaving behind more of the proteins that cause intestinal problems such as leaky gut syndrome.

The method of producing bread has also changed.  Traditionally most dough was left to rise for at least six hours or overnight before baking, which allowed fermentation to occur. This ferment produced beneficial bacteria that broke down the bread proteins into a more digestible form, as well as increasing the levels of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B’s in the bread.

Phytic acid, an organic acid is found in the bran and outer hull of grains, if ingested it can bind up important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, Iron and zinc and stop it from being absorbed into the blood stream, unfortunately phytic acid also inhibits the body’s enzyme capabilities, making the digesting of foods much more difficult.

These days dough contains higher levels of yeast than it used too and is left to rest and rise for around half an hour instead of six, which does not give enough time for the phytic acid and proteins to be broken down, which may explain why we are experiencing so many health problems when eating our daily bread.

So, how do you choose healthy bread? The answer lies in finding someone who still makes bread in the traditional way with less yeast, preferable sough dough which is a natural ferment and rests the dough for an appropriate length of time. I have found many people can tolerate these ‘real’ breads without all the associated symptoms. Health food shops will stock a variety of organic loaves which ensures the quality of the grain but not the processing of the loaf. However, the healthiest bread available is sprouted bread, a very dense loaf which is far from the light and fluffy products we have become accustomed too. If you can get your hands on some of this bread, you can be assured of a quality loaf that will provide an abundance of nutrients in an easy to digest form.