Power up your meals with these herbs that would provide you with some healthy nutrition for the cost of, well, pretty much sweet nothing.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and the primary component of connective tissue in our skin, bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels, and also the gut. Collagen production declines as we age which is the main cause of fine lines and wrinkles that we develop over time and it can also be damaged by smoking and other forms of oxidative stress such as pollution, toxins, bad diet, drinking alcohol, too little sleep, too much stress etc.
The first time I heard about the benefits of bone broth it sounded too good to be true, nutrient dense, healing, reduces inflammation in the respiratory system and improves digestion and not only that it can boost the immune system, detox your cells and heal disorders such as allergies, asthma and arthritis as it contains minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur among others.
So where do I start?
Its pretty easy when you know how but I must admit until I bought the slow cooker it was a bit of a task as you need to simmer the bones from 12 – 24 hours to get the full benefits. The simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine that have the power to really transform your overall health. With a slow cooker you can just switch it on low and leave your broth to simmer all night without worrying about leaving the stove on. A slow cooker for anyone who is not used to cooking with one, is like a big casserole dish which easily plugs into the electric wall socket.
First things first
Always choose organic grass-fed meat for the best health benefits. I usually start by cooking a chicken roast on the Sunday and I put the leftover carcass in the slow cooker. I add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar which helps to extract the vital nutrients from the bones, also I add a little Celtic salt, garlic and fresh herbs, ginger, vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and maybe coriander seeds or seaweed to really give added flavour and nutritional value. Then just turn on the slow cooker and leave for 24 hours.
When you have finished simmering this nutrient rich broth, strain it into a saucepan or bowl so you just get a clear liquid and then pour into a suitable jar. When cool put into the fridge.
The broth sometimes forms a layer of fat at the top which can be spooned off and used to fry your food and the rest can be re-heated as a soothing and healing drink. I usually have a small cup of bone broth per day to optimise the health potential. However if you don’t like the idea of drinking it but really want to enjoy the benefits you could use the broth to cook rice or pasta and this way you will still be absorbing the goodness but in a different way.
So why not try this ancient healing broth and see what it can do for you. Regularly drinking bone broth or using it in recipes can really help to promote a healthy gut and reduce inflammation and give enormous overall health benefits.
Most often than not when trying to get pregnant and not succeeding our attention goes straight to our womb and our ovaries, why aren’t they working? what’s wrong with me? why can’t I get pregnant?
If you are taking all the right supplements and you have been given the unexplained infertility diagnosis which is usually given if you have been trying for over a year without success then we need to look a bit deeper than the obvious places.
If you have a sluggish digestive system the chances are your body will be holding on to a lot of toxins in the liver which puts your digestive system under stress and can prevent you from absorbing vital nutrients.
What can I do to nurture my digestive system?
Eat more foods containing fibre to enable your body to detox and release toxins and excess hormones, which we are exposed to every day such as xenoestrogens from plastics and pollution which actually mimic natural estrogen and can cause hormone imbalances, not something you want when trying to conceive.
Take a probiotic and a prebiotic which can help to build a healthy gut flora, and prevent leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut, also known as increased intestinal permeability, is a digestive condition in which bacteria and toxins are able to “leak” through the intestinal wall and this can prevent you from absorbing vital nutrients, which you will need for your baby to develop in the womb.
Drink lots of fresh filtered water to keep your cells hydrated and to help shift those toxins through your system so they don’t stick around too long in your digestive tract, you could also try adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your water which will help your liver detox.
Eat fresh vegetables, salads, and fruit, preferably organic to keep that digestive system healthy, remove processed foods and refined sugars from your diet and cut down on carbs such as white rice, white pasta, and potatoes and replace with a wholegrain variety which is better to keep your blood sugar levels balanced,
Check to see if you have a lactose or gluten intolerance as this can also affect gut permeability and could be causing inflammation in your body if you have an intolerance which can also raise your natural killer cells, so if you have been able to get pregnant but have had miscarriages, try giving up gluten and dairy for 3 months.
Get a blood test to make sure you are not low in any vitamins or minerals, vitamin D is very important for fertility and often gets over-looked, most of us in the northern hemisphere have some kind of vitamin d deficiency especially during the winter months. Check your thyroid function too as this is often a cause of imbalanced hormones and unexplained infertility and it could be solved very easily just by taking an iodine supplement. Check first to see if you need to.
Try adding lots of fresh herbs to your salads or smoothies, coriander is one of the best herbs to help your liver detox and actually you will be surprised by how good it tastes in a smoothie alongside apples, celery and ginger which are also great detox buddies.
So don’t rush to the IVF clinic just yet, if you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, the chances are it could be down to your digestion.
Stress can also affect digestion so try not to get anxious about not being able to conceive as soon as you would like, try nurturing your whole self and especially be kind to your stomach, eat things that are natural and full of goodness and if you have previously had a diet full of processed foods, refined sugars and carbs maybe try doing a detox for a few months, check yourself for candida and clean up your system, and the chances are you will most likely be in with a good chance of conceiving naturally.
If after 3 months of clean living and changing your diet, it still hasn’t worked for you and you want to go down the IVF route then at least you will know that you have made the best possible conditions for your eggs to nourish and grow and the chance for a better outcome and successful pregnancy. Good luck. x
When we are at home the last thing we think about is toxins, we are in our safe environment, or so it seems but we are increasingly becoming aware of the potential dangers lurking in our home and quite rightly we are now questioning them and unfortunately finding out more than what we bargained for.
The Living Room and Bedroom:
Let’s start with the 1970s when flame retardants were added to foams, plastics, furniture, carpets, building insulation and children’s car seats. Most flame retardants escape from the products into dust and the air we breathe. When dust contaminated with flame retardants gets on the hands, you can easily end up ingesting the dust in your mouth and also through your skin. Scientists have found exposure to flame retardants can affect the nervous and reproductive system and some flame retardants like PBDEs may be linked to neurodevelopmental problems, including impaired cognition and ADHD, particularly if exposure occurs at a very young age. In Europe the use and export of brominated flame retardants have been banned or severely restricted but PBDEs are still used in plastic manufacturing in China.
To minimise and limit your risk of exposure try to keep dust levels down by wet-mopping, and vacuuming with a HEPA filter and wash your hands before eating and avoid buying furniture filled with polyurethane foam.
In most homes the kitchen tends to be a minefield, do you ever use the self-cleaning feature on the oven? Many people assume that the self-cleaning feature does not involve chemicals so it’s a safe choice. Self-cleaning ovens work by heating the oven to insanely hot temperatures and the problem is that the walls of many self-cleaning ovens are coated with Teflon that actually begin to break down at high temperatures, releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Inhaling these fumes may lead to polymer fume fever, so get your rubber gloves on and get some hot soapy water and use elbow grease to clean your oven, and avoid the self-cleaning oven feature like the plague.
Talking of Teflon, have you checked your Teflon pans lately and seen scratches on them? if so time to say goodbye to them, many people are still using non-stick pans even after they have become damaged and begin to flake off. The chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which was used in non-stick Teflon pans up until 2015 and has been linked to many diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver tumours, and reduced fertility. This chemical was found to build up in people’s bodies so if you are using your frying pans daily you will be at a higher risk.
Ceramic coated pans are one of the best replacements to Teflon as they are free of toxins. Always choose a brand that clearly states it’s toxic-free and environmentally friendly.
Do you dry your clothes in a dryer that resides in your kitchen? Every time you put a load of washing on or dry the clothes inside the machine it gives out volatile organic compounds, which include Benzene and Acetaldehyde, carcinogenic substances which are not something you want to breathe in regularly, so if you live in an apartment and cannot dry your clothes outside just open those windows whenever you use your appliances.
Some bathrooms tend to be a damp haven which is a breeding ground for bacteria and harmful organic matter, mold can build up on tiles, on the walls and even on shower curtains and is usually caused by lack of air ventilation, so make sure you have a fan built in to your bathroom or open the windows when you shower or bath to avoid this build-up as the spores from mold can cause toxic disturbances and illnesses over a long period of time. Throw away old shower curtains, re-masticate the tiles and keep mold away by using white vinegar.
Most cleaning products you also use in the bathroom and kitchen are filled with hazardous chemicals which you ultimately inhale when spraying them onto the surfaces, thankfully there are many less harsh cleaning alternatives on the market nowadays and I find my favourite natural solution is white vinegar, it is a great and safe substitute for cleaning anything but especially great for taps, shower screens, mirrors, and mold too. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar try adding some lemon oil.
(Never use chlorine bleach on mold which is often used to clean all manner of surfaces, not only does it produce fumes that pollute the air it also generates a by-product called dioxin, which is linked to cancer. Used over time, bleach builds up these pollutants in the environment, the last thing you want to do is create more toxic chemicals in your home, mold is toxic enough.
The World Health Organisation has pinpointed environmental pollution as a serious contributing factor to diseases and there have even been calls for a ‘Healthy Home Mark’ to be brought in that could be as important as energy efficiency when it comes to people’s decision to buy a home say Envirovent.
As to how bad your house is, there are a number of tests and outside agencies that can come in to assess the quality of your air especially if you suffer from respiratory or asthma symptoms, it might be worth checking out whether the toxins in your home are to blame.
I have never been a fan of fad diets, I have never actually had a weight problem and I wasn’t meaning to lose weight but I did by doing just this one thing.
So how did I lose weight and why did I lose weight?
I was struggling with a digestive issue, lots of heartburn and indigestion for months and I couldn’t get rid of it, I was sick of it, the doctors were giving me acid blockers which are so bad for the body and the more I read about them the more I was determined to stop them but what nobody told me is that they are really hard to ween off, as the symptoms just get worse.
By blocking my stomach acid, I increased my chances of vitamin deficiency and indigestion and catching parasitic bugs. I was desperate to stop taking them so I researched and read about the problems associated with undigested build-up of carbohydrates which sounded like my symptoms.
We all eat way too many carbohydrates in our diet, if you think of the average western family we mostly eat cereal or toast for breakfast, then eat a sandwich for lunch and dinner will most probably include pasta, rice or potatoes, our carb ratio is way too high and I was guilty of being a huge carbohydrate muncher, I loved potatoes and pasta.
I gave up the simple carbs such as rice, potatoes, and bread for three weeks and noticed my weight drop from a size 10 to a size 8 really quickly, I have loads of energy and my digestive issue is much better, all this just by cutting out simple carbohydrates and it wasn’t difficult at all.
I swapped rice for ‘caulirice’ which is delicious and I ate great big breakfasts with everything except the bread so an example would be a poached egg, haloumi, avocado, mushrooms and beans, samphire or spinach. If I didn’t have time for a big breakfast I would eat a natural bio yogurt made from sheep or goats yogurt and add a banana, kiwi or fresh figs and more nuts and seeds, also gluten-free porridge seemed to be fine.
For lunch I would do a huge salad with organic chicken and lots of nuts and seeds and roast sweet potato and feta, lots of greens and broccoli rice, and I ate a few chickpea crackers along with it if I craved crunchy snacks which I do. I ate very little in the evening such as a soup or a smoothie as its easier for your digestion and I didn’t snack in between meals I would drink a glass of water if I felt hungry.
It’s better to leave 4 hours gap between dinner and bedtime so your body can heal and rest during the digestive process, this will improve your sleep too so your body isn’t busy and just focuses on rest instead. It wasn’t a strict diet and I didn’t feel like I was starving myself at all, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, it was a little inconvenient if I was out sometimes as I would have to think and plan a bit more but most places cater for gluten and keto diets nowadays so it wasn’t too difficult.
So if you want to lose weight the healthy way just decrease the carbs and make it a smaller ratio of your diet, carbs contain a lot of sugar too so its really not great to bombard your system with glucose, so you will be helping your body out in more ways than one, and you will notice the difference just within a few weeks. I also improved my digestion by taking a betaine HCL tablet before big meals and took digestive enzymes after meals and this cured my indigestion.
I haven’t been back to my doctor for months and when I next do feel the need, I will turn to food and nutrition first as what we eat holds the key to the whole functioning of our bodies. But always check with your doctor or a healthcare professional first if your symptoms persist.
The forest isn’t the first place you think of when planning to go bathing, but its all the craze in Japan and has been since the 1980s. In Japan, its called “Shinrin-yoku” which means immersed in nature and it has become a vital healing medicine in Japan.
Many health experts have been claiming that forest bathing is the most important thing you could do for your health. According to national figures, in the UK we are a stressed-out nation, 74% of UK adults are overwhelmed by stress at some point in their lives making it one of the biggest health problems we face today.
There have been many scientific studies that demonstrate the healing effects of simply being in nature that can help us live longer and healthier lives.
So how does something so simple as a walk in the forest give you ultimate health benefits?
It’s proven to:
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Reduce stress
- Improve your mood
- Increased ability to focus,
- Accelerated recovery from illness
- Increased energy levels
- Improved sleep
It seems the effect of just switching off from your everyday problems and thoughts to spend some time in nature has a positive healing effect physically and mentally. We live in such an unnatural environment, constantly connected to our phones which distracts us from what is important in life. Just listening to the sounds of the forest is the best meditation.
I tried it this weekend and went to the forest with my dog, we just walked slowly and peacefully connecting with nature, I noticed the trees, the branches, the simple things became magical, I felt a sense of calm which lasted for days, I am usually affected by high cortisol levels and anxiety and this all disappeared, I could think more clearly and my problems felt so insignificant.
The best methods for forest bathing.
- Turn your phone off, the idea is to escape such intrusions that enter your life
- Even if you are in the company it’s better to be quiet and listen to nature not the sounds of your friends talking even if the conversation is great.
- Don’t use this time to think about your problems which would make this a useless exercise.
- Be mindful, take in the sounds of nature, the birds, the leaves blowing in the wind, smell the earth, feel the ground under your feet.
If you live near a natural park, the countryside, or a forest, make time to try forest bathing and feel the healing power of nature. The more you do it the more benefits you will feel from this free and mindful practice and you will keep wanting to go back for more. Natural healing is definitely the best medicine for me.
Are you troubled by hormonal problems, perhaps you have an estrogen dominant condition such as fibroids or endometriosis? Hormones control nearly every aspect of how we feel and could be behind a whole range of symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, headaches, depression, and digestive issues.
My top 5 smoothie ingredients for happy hormones include fibre, healthy fats and lots of antioxidants.
Avocado – A healthy fat which helps to reduce the absorption of estrogen so if you are estrogen dominant this would be a good option. It’s also rich in Vitamin B6 which supports healthy metabolism and nervous system. Avocado can also lower stress hormones in the body and improve serotonin levels needed for a healthy mood
Broccoli – Contains natural compounds such as glucosinolates and sulforaphane, which helps reduce the risk of estrogen-linked cancers and eliminates excess hormones from the body that can disrupt our cycle. Kale is also great for balancing your adrenal glands, which help regulate the hormones necessary for fertility, mood stability, and energy levels, it is also rich in iron and contains sulfur which detoxes the liver.
Flaxseeds – Rich in antioxidants and compounds called lignans which have been shown to help regulate estrogen levels. Chia, Pumpkin or Hemp seeds would also work well for hormone balance. Hemp is an excellent source of protein if you are a vegetarian and supplies the body with all 3 omegas.
Blueberries or Kiwi – Too much fruit in your smoothie can cause high sugar spikes which would create an imbalance of blood sugar levels so its best to only add a small addition of fruit to your smoothie, kiwi is abundant with vitamin C and blueberries have high antioxidant activity so either a small handful of blueberries or a kiwi is enough fruit for your smoothie.
Maca – originally from Peru this superfood enhances energy, vitality and is proven to support hormone balance and improve fertility chances, it also tastes great so is a goodie for your hormone balancing smoothie.
Mix all your chosen ingredients with your favourite plant-based milk, dairy from cows is full of hormone disruptors so avoid cows milk, I love Rude Health almond milk or coconut milk, coconut is rich in amino acids, healthy fats, minerals, and B vitamins which would be beneficial to your hormones and almonds are a source of vitamin E, copper and magnesium which is vital for a healthy endocrine system.
Berry Nice Hormones Smoothie
- 1 hand full of Blueberries
- Half Avocado
- 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
- 1 Tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 Tbsp Maca Powder
- 4 Broccoli Florets
- A glass of Coconut Milk
Then drink at room temperature, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that icy drinks can interfere with your digestive fire and cause dampness in the body so it’s always better for your system to drink your beverage at room temperature to avoid causing strain on your kidneys and liver.
I have always loved pesto sauce and especially since suffering with heartburn I found a real friend in basil. Basil is an underestimated herb which is full of health benefits.
Not only does basil reduce inflammation, it also reduces the effects of oxidative stress, has anti-ageing properties and its anti-bacterial. There are also studies to show that it can also be effective at fighting cancer. If you ever needed an excuse to eat more basil, this is it.
The problem with the shop bought varieties is that they have so many added preservatives, my main aim is always to keep it fresh, keep it simple and to know exactly what I am eating, so here is my simple fresh Pesto.
Invest in a pestle and mortar or you can use a blender.
- Add lovely fresh clean new green basil leaves, no stalks, and no dead leaves.
- Use the pestle to ground it until its a green paste
- Add a lug of organic olive oil
- Add toasted pine nuts and work into the paste
- Add grated parmesan cheese
- If you want to add crushed garlic you can do that now
- Finish off with a little sea salt and a squirt of lemon and some chilli flakes
- If it seems a little dry add a little more olive oil
The result, an easy pesto sauce as fresh as you can get within 5 minutes, now just add warm pasta, or spirallised courgettes or use the mix to make a salad dressing.