How Toxic Is Your Home?

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.

The Kitchen:

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.

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

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.

The Bathroom:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Improve Your Digestion And Lose Weight Fast

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Could Forest Bathing Make You Live Longer?

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

 

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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, I didn’t want to come out of the forest that day.

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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.

 

 

 

A Hormone Balancing Smoothie

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

 

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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.

 

 

 

Easy Fresh Pesto

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.

Fresh Pesto in 5 Mins

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.

How To Lower Cortisol Levels Naturally

As someone who has personally suffered from the effects of anxiety and stress, I know how it feels to live with the fight or flight response, which is often permanently active and the consequences of this condition mean exhausted adrenals, fatigue and a general feeling of malaise.

One study shows that 3 million adults in the UK currently suffer from anxiety disorders, some claim that anxiety is the disease of the 21st century. Many psychologists working with young people have noted a substantial increase in the number of people, young and old, reporting with symptoms of anxiety.

So what are we getting all anxious about? 

It seems to be a problem mainly associated with the modern world and can be triggered by stressful events, work or relationship problems. Some people find the news makes them anxious and it wouldn’t be surprising. The news is full of stories of conflict, natural disasters, economic troubles, and crime and that can also add to our anxiety. 

What is Cortisol and what effect does it have on the body? 

Cortisol is a stress hormone which is produced by our adrenal glands and is usually released in response to events such as exercising and stress.

It’s a healthy response when it is required especially if we are in a dangerous situation but the problem is that this stress response is being triggered too frequently from our ever-stressed, fast-paced lifestyle and our bodies are pumping out cortisol almost constantly, which can wreak havoc on our health. 

Long-term stress and elevated cortisol may also be linked to insomnia.

The Effects of Elevated Cortisol 

– Elevated cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels which could cause blood sugar imbalances and put our bodies at risk of type 2 diabetes. 

– The purpose of Cortisol is to reduce inflammation in the body, which is good, but over time these efforts to reduce inflammation also suppresses the immune system. Chronic inflammation caused by lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, contributes to keeping cortisol levels soaring.

–  It’s important to eat your meals in a quiet manner allowing your digestion and absorption of nutrients to work at its peak performance, however if you are stressed, indigestion develops and the mucosal lining becomes irritated and inflamed. This inflammation can lead to a higher increase in the production of cortisol and the cycle continues as the body becomes increasingly burdened.

– Long-term stress and elevated cortisol may also be linked to insomnia, chronic fatigue, and depression. When we sleep our cells renew and regenerate and in situations of chronic stress these systems are compromised allowing cortisol to soar. 

Eat More Greens

How Can We Reduce Cortisol?

The best approach to keeping cortisol levels at bay is mastering stress management and optimising our diet.

1. Tackling Stress: Exercise is a great way to release built-up stress, emotions, anger and the toxin overload that comes with it and this will also help to promote a better nights sleep. If you need to talk about what is causing your stress, try seeing a therapist, whether its someone who can just listen or perhaps someone who can find an alternative way to break your stressful thought patterns such as hypnotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy.

2. Be Mindful: Try practicing Yoga and Meditation, I found it easier to start by making it part of my morning or bedtime routine, even if its just 10 minutes of stretching and conscious breathing. Yoga, Meditation and other mind-body practices train your body and mind to be able to cope with stress which can also improve overall health and well-being.

3. Lower Inflammation: Systemic inflammation causes elevated cortisol levels. If we can naturally decrease inflammation in the body and minimise stress, decreased cortisol levels should follow. Try sticking to a low inflammatory diet which includes lots of organic plant-based foods, fibre, nuts, seeds, and beans and cut down on inflammatory foods such as processed take away meals, high sugar, alcohol, caffeine and foods high in saturated fats. 

4. Laugh: I don’t know about you but after a good belly laugh, nothing can change my good mood, Its just addictive and I crave more and more laughter. Spend time with friends that are fun, that make you laugh or watch a comedy or funny cats on youtube, whatever makes you smile. Those feel good endorphins that you release will naturally lower your stress levels and if you make time for regular laughter this should help to keep your cortisol levels at a low. Also sometimes when I am meditating I find that if I smile to myself it really has an effect of, its all ok, everything is going to be fine even if I don’t feel it is at that moment just fake it. Smile or laugh as much as possible and your high cortisol levels will have no place to hide.


Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Apparently as many as 16 million UK adults* are suffering from sleepless nights. That’s 1 in 3 adults who suffer from insomnia. Have you ever suffered with this debilitating sleep disorder?

Sleep is essential for our general well-being. When we sleep it allows for healing to take place. It helps to keep our hormones balanced, improves immune health, digestion, brain health and also skin health. It also gives us a better capacity to cope with everyday stresses and gives us the ability to make sound judgments. 

How can we make sure we get enough quality Zzzz’s?

  • Many studies are being done to understand the connection between our gut and our brain health. Our gut microbiome is the complex community of microorganisms that live in our digestive tract. So if you’ve been having trouble sleeping, embracing a gut-friendly diet and lifestyle will put you on the right path to protecting your overall health which will also give you a better chance for some good sleep.
  • It’s uber important to get enough exercise as it releases tension and toxins which help relieve the body of any mental and physical reasons which could be keeping you awake at night. Exercise boosts the effect of natural sleep hormones such as melatonin.
  • What’s your bedtime ritual? Is it to look at Instagram or watch TV in bed? This will stimulate your mind and the light from your devices will deplete your melatonin levels. If you are struggling with sleep, try reading a book. According to a study conducted in 2009 by researchers at the University of Sussex showed that six minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%, clearing the mind will really help to calm the body and induce natural sleep. 
  • Meditation is an ancient practice which can improve symptoms of Insomnia by reducing measures of arousal in the brain, whether you do it for just 10 minutes in the morning or before you go to bed, this will train your brain to clear itself of negative thought patterns or the constant chatter in our minds which can keep you awake at night. 
  • Digestion is a very common reason why some people can’t sleep. If you are making your digestive system active just before bed, your liver and kidneys will be working hard, which could keep you awake. Your kidneys repair between the hours of 10-1am so its good to eat at least two hours before bed and try to get in a sleep routine where you go to bed at the same time if possible.

If you are looking for a good sleep formula without the health risks of prescribed sleeping tablets. We+People have formulated a blend of organic plant based ingredients listed below, which are all proven to induce calm and promote natural sleep.

Valerian Root:

A herb native to Asia and Europe, is often referred to as “nature’s Valium.” In fact, this herb has been used since ancient times to promote tranquility and improve sleep.

It contains a number of compounds that may promote sleep and reduce anxiety. These include valeric acid, isovaleric acid and a variety of antioxidants.

Valerian has received attention for its interaction with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger that helps regulate nerve impulses in your brain and nervous system. Researchers have shown that low GABA levels related to acute and chronic stress are linked to anxiety and low-quality sleep.

Ashwagandha: 

The Ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers that are native to India and North Africa. It is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine based on Indian principles of natural healing.

It is best known for its stress-lowering effects. It’s classified as an “adaptogen,” meaning that it can help your body manage stress.

Bacopa: 

Bacopa Monnieri has been used for centuries in Ayurveda traditional medicine and has long been thought of as a “wonder herb.”

As a quintessential Adaptogen, it has a helpful effect on our stress management. It has similarities to L-Theanine, in that it reduces anxiety and keeps you calm, but also provides additional benefits such as enhancing your memory.

To purchase ‘Sleep’ head over to wepeople.uk