Taking care of our hair; the natural way

Hair has always been a symbol of beauty.  In many cultures, hair is seen (physically and/or figuratively), as an extension of oneself.  In African cultures the head is the centre of communication, control and identity.  One’s hair is regarded as a source of power, which can be used for spiritual purposes and/or casting a spell.  Because it sits at the highest point of the body, Africans believe that it is in order to communicate with divine spirits, thus it is taken care of from a young age.  In the Yoruba-culture, a baby’s head is shaven to mark its passage from the spirit world into the living world.  The shorn hair can be used in good luck charms, or in healing tonics.

The Incas in Peru, cut the hair from a one- or two-year-old baby at a special ceremony called Rutuchicoy.  The Incas believe that hair contains a person’s essence, thus the cut hair is kept in a safe place.  Hindus have followed a long tradition of shaving a child’s head as a way to get rid of impurities, so that fresh / new hair can grow in its place.  Removing the “old” hair is believed to bring energy, strength, long life and other virtues.  The shorn hair is offered as a religious sacrifice! 

There are many factors that influence our hair growth cycle and/or pattern of hair loss, for example the environment, weather, hormonal changes, diet, nutrition, stress, genetics, and so forth.  In this blogpost I want to touch on a couple of vitamins, minerals and herbs, that is important for keeping your hair looking healthy and strong. 

Vitamin D plays an important role in stimulating old and new hair follicles.  If you lack vitamin D in your system, new hair growth can be inhibited, causing stunted hair growth during winter.  If it is possible, try to spend more time in the sun, to absorb more vitamin D.  Otherwise make sure to take a good vitamin D-supplement.  I like Solgar, Solal and Biogen.

Omega 3 is part of the fatty acids group and essential for hair and skin.  It helps to promote scalp circulation, which triggers hair growth.  Omega 3 fatty acids helps to prevent inflammation of the hair follicles (a factor that contributes to hair loss).

Zinc plays a key role in the growth and repair of tissue.  It helps to keep the oil glands around the follicles in good working condition and, in turn, these oil glands feed the scalp and hair.  Zinc can be found in legumes, beef, spinach, wheat germ and pumpkin seeds.  Many supplements also contain zinc.

Vitamin A is needed for cell growth.  Our hair is no exception; vitamin A helps the skin to produce sebum.  Sebum is our scalp’s natural moisturiser, which reduces dandruff and itchy skin.  Orange fruit and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and mangoes, are good sources of vitamin A.

Vitamin C needs to be taken every day as it is a water-soluble vitamin.  It is important as it helps the body to absorb iron.  Iron is important for hair growth, helps to improve blood flow to the scalp and prevents hair breakage.  Berries, guavas, citrus fruit, broccoli and leafy greens, all contain vitamin C, as well as potatoes in the skin, oranges and mangoes.

Collagen not only promotes hair follicle-growth, but can help to curb early signs of greying hair.  Bone broth, egg whites, berries and citrus fruit are foodstuffs that assist the body with the natural production of collagen.  A good supplement is also a good option to use; you can either add it to your smoothie or whichever way you choose.

Biotin is part of the B-vitamins.  It helps to increase oxygen-flow to the hair follicles and scalp.  This in turn supports hair growth from the root.  Try adding more egg yolks, nuts, bananas, cruciferous vegetables, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado and/or pistachio nuts to your diet.  

Water is still one of the best ways to hydrate and nourish your whole body and hair, from the inside.  If you don’t like the taste of tap water, either boil it and let it cool, drink filtered water and/or add a slice of lemon, orange or strawberries, to give your water a better taste.

Moringa is and age-old herb that is used for multiple health remedies.  It acts as a super enabler for hair growth and is loaded with vitamins A, B, C and E.  Moringa also contains iron, zinc, essential amino acids and antioxidants, that are responsible for nourishing your hair.  It can be taken as a drink, incorporated in your food or applied as a hair mask.

Ashwagandha is another herb that is very helpful in combatting free radicals.  It protects the scalp and hair follicles and helps to promote healthy hair growth.  Ashwagandha is found in Africa and Asia and can be used in food or taken as a supplement.

Beauty comes from within and this is very true.  Your hair is your crown (so to speak); taking care of it from the inside is key.  Using the right shampoo and conditioner is important, but if you lack some / all of the above-mentioned vitamins and minerals, it will show in your hair (and skin).  Eating a healthy, balanced diet, drinking enough water, getting out into the sun, exercising and making sure to supplement if you have a deficiency, are important.  Healthy hair that shines in the sunlight are beautiful; enjoy your head of hair!

New Year; new things; new you

There is a saying that a new year is like a new chapter in a book.  Whatever happened last year, is done.  The past cannot be brought back nor changed.  However, if there were lessons to be learnt, then hopefully it was and we can move forward.  That is why a car’s front window is bigger than the back window – it is a reminder for us to look forward and not back.  Life is not a destination, but a journey.  Each day (not just each new year), is another blessing given to us to enjoy life to the fullest, to grow and to learn.  The world around us is changing; even though it might not be visible to the naked eye, one can feel it.    When you tune in and listen with your heart, then you will notice that earth is going through changes herself.  It is as if a cleansing process is taking place; not just on the physical planes, but also emotionally and spiritually.

A new year, just like a new day, is a time for us to write a new chapter; to start something new; or to let go of that which doesn’t serve us anymore.  Many people start each year with 1 / more new year’s resolutions, but not everyone accomplishes it.  Why?  There are many reasons why people don’t stick to their resolutions.  It can be anything from either having too many things on the list, or it is because, whatever the resolution is, it is what your head tells you to do, not your heart.  What do I mean?  In a nutshell, if you want to achieve something, then you must commit whole-heartedly; doing something just for the sake of doing it, you will find not many people committing to it long-term.

For example, if your new year’s resolution is to exercise more, then you should do it because you want to, not because you have to.  Think of something you really enjoy doing and recognize how you feel when you do it.  When you can feel the same way about a new year’s resolution, then you will achieve your goal much easier; and you will enjoy the journey as well!  It is wonderful to have a goal that you want to work towards at the start of a new year.  Just make sure that it is not something that is going to overwhelm you.  Using the previous example again; if you want to exercise more, but hate the gym, opt for doing something at home, online, or outdoors.  Starting off slowly (in this case once a week), and working it up to say 3 times per week after a month or 2, is a far better way to kickstart a good habit.  When you want to do too many things all at once, or too much too soon, then you either feel burnt out or lose interest faster.

A good habit is like a good wine.  Instead of gulping the wine down, you sip it and enjoy the smell and taste.  The same goes for a new year’s resolution.  Whatever you want to achieve, you have to want to do it, enjoy what you are doing and be happy about it.  When you make a decision, only in your headspace, you tend to lose interest.  When there are emotions involved, in other words, when your heart and head are in sync about it, then you’ll not only enjoy it more, but will continue doing it year after year, day after day.

New Year’s resolutions are not everybody’s cup of tea.  For many people it seems like a waste of time or energy, while others don’t have anything specific in mind, that they either want to change or achieve.  That is ok!  Just being present, appreciating what we have, nature, the people in our lives, our pets, and so forth, are great.  A resolution doesn’t have to be something big – it can be something simple like waking up earlier to watch a sunrise, or drinking less coffee.  It can even be making more time for yourself and/or laughing more!

Whatever it is that you want to achieve this year, know that nothing is too big or too much to do, if you put your heart (and not just your mind) to it!  Change is the only thing that is constant in this world and, as the saying goes, “a change is as good as a holiday!”  Have a wonderful 2022 and may it be a year full of blessings, fun and positive energies! 

Another year on its back

As we come to the end of another year, I would like to thank all my readers for your support.  It was, indeed a crazy yet interesting year.  On the one hand, we still had people living in fear, unfortunately, but on the other, people started to wake up.  To live in a constant state of fear is not just bad for your overall health, but it can also wreak havoc on your psychological- and emotional well-being.

When you stress, worry, live in fear and/or is scared all the time, your immune system takes a huge knock.  The fight-/flight mode happens when our bodies excrete adrenalin; especially when we are in a dangerous / scary situation.  However, this is not a normal state of being.  As in everything, there needs to be a balance.  When the balance is tipped, our immune systems break down.  Your body uses vitamin B6 & B12 to keep the immune system strong.  During a stressful time, these vitamins are used first.  When there is not enough “support” left, then dis-ease and illness set in.

So, what do you do?  Keeping our immune systems strong is key.  A healthy, balanced diet, coupled with exercise, enough sunlight / taking extra vitamin D and getting out into nature, are vital.  Breathing oxygen in is extremely important.  When we are not getting enough oxygen in, not only does our immune system start to unravel, but also our internal organs; especially our brain.  Did you know that children need double the amount of oxygen than adults? 

Another great way to stress less, is to stop listening to and reading about all the fear-mongering.  Be aware of what is going on, but don’t stop living a life of laughter, joy and fun.  Don’t give your power away and become emotionally involved.  There is always a light at the end of every tunnel; there is always sunshine after a rainstorm; there is always something to be grateful for. Therefore, my readers, stay strong, stay positive, send love and light to the world and never let anybody / anything take away your power!  Happy holidays and to those who are celebrating new year, have a wonderful, healthy and happy new year!

Keeping your sanity during the festive season (or any other time of the year)

When it comes to the festive season, it is as if people are more rushed, yet tired and snap easily.  Is it due to the stress and rush of the past year or is it partly due to the excitement in the air?  For many people the festive season is bliss; wonderful days by the fire-side, playing outside in the snow or, if you live in warmer climates, lazy days by the pool or on the beach.  However, for some people this time of the year is quite depressing and not a restful period.  The reasons vary – it can be loneliness, entertaining the family and friends and/or the weather!

What to do when the “blues” starts creeping in when you are supposed to be having fun and look forward to the holidays?  Breathe!  When you take slow, deep breathes your heart rate automatically starts to become slower.  Breathing deeply allows more oxygen to flow into your body, automatically calming you down.  Another way to handle it is to take it day-by-day.  Make a list of what needs to be done and if you have family and/or friends, delegate and share the food-preparation, for example.  Decide beforehand what you can afford to spend on gifts; after all, it is not the price tag that is most important but the love and idea behind the gift.  Try making your own gift.  There are so many great ideas online and in magazines, that there is something for everyone!

If you are spending this time alone and you dread it, make sure to either connect with friends or people in the neighbourhood.  Being alone can be depressing, however, when you reach out to others, things change.  When your space becomes small, go outside.  I have said it before – nature is the best medicine and companion when you are alone.  Focusing on what you have (whether you are alone this time or not), instead of what you don’t, is a game-changer.  Enjoying the season, the colours, the ambience of the festive season, and everything else, is good for your soul.  Listening to upbeat music and watching comedies are another way of lifting your spirit up.  Music soothes the soul and laughing is, the best medicine!

Getting everything ready for the festive season can become hectic when you work full-day and have a house to run.  Shopping for presents before December is a great idea, as is having a list.  A grocery list is always handy, not just during the festive season, but anytime you want to entertain guests or your family.  A wish-list of what people (including the kids) want, is another great idea and takes the stress off not knowing what to buy.  Personally, I like giving people what they want, instead of buying or making something that they either never use or throw away.

This time of year, is a time not only to reflect, but also to give.  Giving does not have to be money; it can be your time, your love, yourself.  It is a time to come together with family and friends; to be grateful for everything and everyone you have.  It is a time to relax and enjoy the lights!  Have a blessed, peaceful and joyous festive season everyone!

Superfoods – fact or myth?

In recent years “superfoods” became the new buzzword.  More and more people were looking for ways of keeping wrinkles at bay (a little longer), wanted more energy and needed something that is nutrient-dense.  There are a variety of these “superfoods” on the market, however, don’t underestimate other (not listed) food and/or spices.  Organic, raw foodstuff is always a wonderful option, packed with nutrients, as is free range produce as well.  I am sure most of you have one / more of the superfoods at home, use it regularly and/or know about it.  In today’s post I want to look at why these made the list.

Cinnamon

One of my favourite spices has to be cinnamon.  Used in baking a milk tart, or adding it to a pumpkin-dish, cinnamon has been around for a very long time and is quite versatile.  Cinnamon not only lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, but also cholesterol-levels.  In a study done in 2015, it was found that cinnamon reduces menstrual bleeding, pain, vomiting, nausea and systemic symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea.  The bonus of using cinnamon is that there are no side effects, because it is a natural, healthy product.  The anti-inflammatory activities have also been studied and it was found that, apart from treating inflammation, it can also treat age-related conditions.

Goji berries

Small, but nutrient-dense goji berries, can pack a punch!  It contains almost 12 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries and helps to protect the skin from UV radiation-damage.  Goji berries also helps to improve the immune system’s functions and general wellbeing.  It has anti-ageing and antioxidant properties, can inhibit different types of cancer and increases the quantity and quality of sperm.

Spirulina

In 2013 a study showed that spirulina prevents hypertension and acts as a cancer-fighting food.  The study concluded that it can decrease the proliferation of experimental pancreatic cancer, thus it has a chemo-preventative role.  There are a number of health benefits of spirulina, which includes preventing the build-up of plaque in the arteries and reducing blood cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, while increasing HDL cholesterol.  The jury is still out on the latter, but it is clear that spirulina is another “superfood” with hidden benefits.

Acai berries

A study done in 2012 showed that acai berries protect the brain cells, as well as improve cognitive and motor functions.  These dark blue fruits, which thrive in the Brazilian Amazon, improves the lipid profile, blood antioxidant status and increase the serum lipid profile.  In other words, it aids to keep cholesterol- and triglyceride-levels in check.

Turmeric

Another spice that has been around for years and used in many kitchens today, turmeric is packed with anti-inflammatory properties (thanks to the curcumin).  It is far better than aspirin, ibuprofen and so forth, as it is natural, healthy and doesn’t have any side-effects (apart from a more regular tummy, at times!).  Evidence shows that turmeric can also help to lower blood glucose levels and play a beneficial role in managing diabetes.  It is a good idea to pair turmeric with black pepper to increase bioavailability and absorption, but do take care if you have a sensitive stomach.

Bone broth

Whether it is / was your grandparents or other family members who used it, bone broth is an extremely nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest foodstuff.  Using every part of the animal when it is cooked, bone broth support healthy cartilage and strong bones (this is due to the collagen in the broth).  Bone broth also supports a healthy gut, fights food sensitivities and support the growth of good bacteria (probiotics).  Due to the collagen and amino acids supporting healthy tissue, the whole digestive function (including the colon and entire GI tract), is supported.  Another health benefit is that it repairs a damaged gut lining (“leaky gut”) and, last but not least, it is a powerful detoxifying agent, as it helps the liver to get rid of toxins and improve the use of antioxidants.

Chestnuts

Chestnuts contain antioxidants and fibre, which helps to improve heart- and gut health.  Nutrients like vitamin C, vitamins B and manganese, are found in chestnuts.  Research done in 2013 found that chestnut extract plays an important role in the gastric tolerance of beneficial bacteria, lactobacilli. 

Gingko biloba

Gingko biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years and years.  In a 2013-study, rats were given gingko biloba for 30 days. After 30 days, the diabetes-induced symptoms were reversed.  Gingko biloba is antihyperglycemic, antihyperlipidemic and contains antioxidants, which is good news for diabetics. 

The benefits of using one / more of the above-mentioned “superfoods” as part of your diet, is a wonderful, natural way to help you to stay healthy.  A well-balanced diet, together with exercising, is key to living a healthy life.  By no means should you stop taking other supplements, especially if the food is not organic and/or free range.  However, supplements and “superfoods” are not replacements for food.  It is an added bonus, so to speak, to your health and well-being! 

Keeping your exercise-routine interesting

Exercise is, for millions of people, a part of their daily routine.  It is something that they love doing, whether it is going to the gym, going on a hike, for a swim or just walking in nature, it is part of who they are.  For other people exercise is not something that they like, nor do.  If you haven’t been exercising for a while, it is not easy to get back into your routine.  However, if exercising was part of your lifestyle, then it will be easier to get back into your routine.  If you have never / rarely done any exercise, then it is not easy to start.

Today there are so many new exercise-forms to choose from that there is something for everyone – even those who dislike going to the gym!  Many times before, I refer to being outdoors whenever possible.  I still believe that it is a wonderful, if not one of the best places, to exercise.  Fresh air, beautiful sights and sounds are the perfect combination to not only exercise your body, but also your mind and spirit.  Exercising doesn’t have to feel like a chore, nor become boring.  For example, if you walk a lot but want to change your routine, why not add some ankle- and or wrist weights?  Walking uphill from time-to-time is another great way to do more cardio, especially for the buttocks and legs.  Walking faster than normal to get the heart rate up is wonderful. 

If you are “new” to exercising, start at a slower, shorter pace.  Trying out a Pilates- or Yoga class for the first time (or any other form of group exercise) can be daunting at first.  Start with beginner-level and always listen to your body.  If you can manage only 8 reps instead of 16, the first time, then that is fine.  Using either your body alone or light weights, at first, is another way to get you going without injuring yourself.  There is no point in pushing yourself so hard that you end up either extremely stiff and/or sore the next day / week.  If it is your first time trying out either a class or just starting an exercise-routine, you want to feel great afterwards, not be so stiff that you can barely move!

If you like jogging, you can also change the pace and/or where you jog.  For example, you can jog uphill, you can jog, then stop and do some lunges and jog further.  Even changing the time of your exercise-routine (if possible), can make a difference.  If you enjoy exercising in the morning, but it is winter and dark, why not try exercising in your lunch break or after work?  If you exercise after work, but want to be home when it gets dark, make time to exercise before you go to work.

If you have a schedule that doesn’t allow you time during the week to do much exercise, make a date with yourself every weekend.  You can even exercise on Saturday and Sunday; taking a walk / going for a jog the one day and doing Pilates, Yoga or whatever there is either at the gym or online that you like, the other day.  It is always good to change the type of exercises you do, because your body does get used to certain movements.  A person who is physically strong because of weight-bearing exercises, is not always flexible and struggle when they have to do either Pilates of Yoga.  Being “walking-fit” doesn’t necessarily make you “swim-fit.”

If you don’t like exercising why not do it with your partner, your pet or a friend?  Often people who don’t like exercising end up enjoying it when they do it with someone.  Many ladies, in particular, enjoy group classes and/or working out with someone.  Start a group at work and make a point of going for a walk outside during lunchtime, if possible, or otherwise meet before work.  If it is too cold, wet and/or dark outside, then ask your boss if you can use an open space in the office either before work, during lunchtime or after work (if it is suitable).  All you need is between 15 – 30 minutes, 3 times per week, to start seeing (and feeling) results. 

Exercising can and should be fun; there has never been a better time than now, to start, regardless of your age and/or your size.  Humans are born to move; our bodies were not made to sit all day and just move from one chair to the other.  Without any form of movement, you not only become stiff (tight), but you breathe shallower, thus cutting off both circulation and oxygen to your organs.  Your heart is a muscle and, just like your legs and arms, need to “move.”  Indeed, it does as it pumps the blood, but getting your heartrate up is a great way to keep it healthy.

If there is nothing else you think you can get from exercising, think again.  It is a great way to catch-up with friends, it is a wonderful way to unwind and relax, it will definitely help you to sleep better and cope with life in general, and it will change the way you look and feel about yourself.  Gyms are convenient yes, but there are many other places where one can exercise (as mentioned before), so there is no excuse why you cannot get off the couch and move! 

The psychology of colour

Different colours create different ambiences, moods and energies.  Many people today know that we live in an electric universe; where many, if not all, is energy.  Various colours can create a certain mood in a room, and even affect your own mood when you wear it.  Colour-therapy is used today to help people sleep better, work better and feel better about themselves.

The main difference between colours is that there is cool- and warm colours.  Cool colours refer to the blue, green and yellow-shades on the colour-wheel. Warm colours are the red, pink and orange-shades.  A colour-wheel / -chart can help when you are not sure which colours to choose.  Especially when it comes to wearing the right shades for your skin tone.  Some people have a “blue” undertone and others a “green” undertone.  The easiest way to find out what your skin tone is, is to look at the inside of your wrist.  If your veins look bluer, then you have a cool skin tone.  If it looks greener, then you have a warm skin tone.

Colours can create a specific mood in your home and office.  If, for example, you want the room to be calm (for example your bedroom), then opt for soft colours.  Choosing red, orange and other bright colours will create havoc on your sleeping pattern and bring in energy, instead of calm, into the room.  Do take care, however, not to choose black either.  Black is a very dark, dead colour; thus, it was traditionally worn to funerals!  If you do want to use black, make sure to use other colours as well that will break the dark, sombre mood that black can create in a room.

When choosing your clothing, always consider your skin tone.  So many people today colour their hair but forget that, regardless whether or not you colour your hair, your skin tone doesn’t change.  Going from natural blond hair, for example, to pitch black hair can, more often than not, make you look much older and harden your face.  Just like colour in a room can change the ambience, so too can clothing.  If you feel tired, opt for brighter colours like red, orange or dark pink.  These colours will give you more energy and “wake you up.”  Softer colours like blue, green and yellow, will help you to relax and unwind.

I was watching a fashion influencer’s video the other day on YouTube.  She said that, if you are unsure what to wear and/or how to style your clothing pieces together, just look at nature.  Nature’s colours always work well together to create that natural balance and beauty.  I think it is a wonderful idea, whether it is to get ideas for your home, office and/or wardrobe.  The colour-spectrum is so vast and there are so many colours to choose from, that it can sometimes be overwhelming for some people.  Indeed, people are naturally drawn to certain colours, certain looks and styles, but it is always a good idea to look at other choices.  Especially if you want to change your room, your closet and/or yourself. 

For my female readers, a last tip.  When choosing your make-up, do make sure that it blends in with your skin tone.  Your foundation should never be too light or too dark; it should blend into the colour of your neck.  The same applies for lip stick.  Lip sticks also come in cool- and warm shades, either with blue- or yellow/green undertones.  Testing the make-up on the inside of your wrist first, or using a sample first, are the best way to know whether or not the colour (-s) will suit you or not.

If you want to redecorate but don’t know where to start and/or if something will work or not, start with something small, like the cushions or lamp.   Using a book or the internet for ideas is a great way to start.  Just keep in mind what the room’s function is and/or the other people / pets in the home.  If you want to change your wardrobe, follow a fashion-blogger and observe what she / he is wearing and how everything is put together.  A great tip is to take whatever you have in your cupboard, put it on your bed and “mix-and-match” items together.  Take photos of the different outfits and, if there comes a day that you don’t know what to wear, have a look at your photos for some inspiration.

Colours play a big role in our lives, whether in our homes, offices or what we wear.  As mentioned earlier, many people associate black with funerals and white with hospitals.  When decorating a room, be careful not to put too much emphasis on just one / two colours.  So often you see a beautiful home on the outside, but when you look inside, the colour-scheme is very cool, almost too manly (for lack of a better description) and not inviting at all!  Too many colours, however, can also be over-bearing and makes a room feel too busy.  Thus, turning to nature is such a great tip, because there you will always find balance and harmony!

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are the “soldiers,” so to speak, that fights off harmful free radicals.  Free radicals are unstable molecules, which can damage DNA, cell membranes and other parts of the cells.  Due to the lack of a full complement of electrons, they steal these from other molecules, damaging the molecules in the process.  Antioxidants fight off these unstable molecules, by neutralizing free radicals.  By “sacrificing” some of their own electrons, the unstable molecules are “switched off.”  This breaks a chain reaction that can affect other molecules in the cells, as well as other cells in the body.  Antioxidants, however, does not refer to a cell or nutritional property.  Rather, it is a chemical property.  Examples are certain vitamins and minerals, like vitamins C and E, and Copper, Zinc and Selenium.

The very nature of free radicals causes it to be damaging; however, they are an inescapable part of life.  Our bodies generate free radicals in response to environmental insults, such as tobacco smoke, ultraviolet rays, air pollution, and so forth.  However, free radicals are also a natural by product of normal processes in the cells.  When our immune system musters to fight these intrudes (viruses, bacteria and damaged body cells), the oxygen used spins off an army of free radicals, which destroys these intruders.  This is called an oxidative burst. 

Interestingly, the normal production of free radicals also occurs during exercise.  This is necessary in order to induce some of the beneficial effects of regular, physical activity, so as to sensitize your muscle cells to insulin. There are many foodstuffs that contain natural antioxidants.  Indeed, a supplement is not a bad idea if you don’t eat a healthy diet.  Do remember, though, that supplements are not to be used as substitute for foodstuffs.  Supplements are mainly used as a tool to add to your diet; especially if you eat non-organic foods.

Vitamin C is found in oranges, tomatoes, kiwi, red peppers, guava, pineapples, lemons, broccoli, mangos and cantaloupe.

Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, tomatoes, pine nuts, apricots, seaweed, avocado, soymilk and acai.

Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardines, ham, shrimp, beef, chicken, cottage cheese and eggs.

Beta-carotene is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, peppers, kale, apricot, spinach, peas, cantaloupe and squash.

Lycopene foods include guavas, bell peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, grapefruit, persimmon, mangoes, papaya and watermelon.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are found in spinach, collard greens, turnip, kale, peas, squash, parsley, zucchini, edamame and pumpkin.

Anthocyanin rich foods (a subclass of phytochemicals), are found in red apples, bilberry, black current, black olives, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, chokeberries, cranberries and elderberries.

Certain herbs, spices and nuts also contain antioxidants.  These include ground cloves, oregano leaf, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, turmeric powder, walnuts, basil leaf, yellow mustard seed and pecans.

Last, but definitely not least, is chocolate!  Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants; especially those containing 70% or higher cocoa.  So, next time you want to eat a piece, or 2, of your favourite chocolate, make sure it is a dark chocolate!

Taking care of our feather- furry- and crawling friends

Animals, just like humans, need food, water and shelter.  During the summer months, nature provides plenty of food, water, and so forth.  It is during the dry and/or cold months, that animals need a bit of help.  In the Northern Hemisphere many animals either hibernate during winter or migrate to warmer climates.  House animals need to be kept warm; whether it is a special jacket that they wear, sleeping indoors, or both, it is vital to make sure that our animals are safe and warm.

In the Southern Hemisphere, winters can be dry, but cold.  Some parts do get snow, while others can get frost.  Domestic animals, as well as farm animals, need protection from the cold.  I always think it is best to let your dog / cat sleep indoors when it is freezing outside.  It is sad to see animals, all over the world, being left outside when it is so cold!  Even when it is warm, many animals are just dumped somewhere – why??

During the summer months, both animals and humans alike, seem to have more energy.  In the Southern Hemisphere (and I am sure parts of the United States as well), summer can be dry and very hot.  It is always a great idea to have a bird bath with fresh water, so that our feathery friends can have a drink.  Ants can be a problem in some households during these dry months.  How many of you haven’t found ants in your kettle?  All they are looking for is water (and yes, sometimes a crumb or two)!  Leaving a small plate with water out, will deter the ants from climbing into your kettle.  I tried it and, trust me, it works!  Our wintertime is drier than our summertime (when we get rain), so the plate with water really helps!

Animals and insects alike, teaches us to “go with the flow,” to make peace with the natural cycles of different seasons and to enjoy the moment.  Dogs really know what unconditional love means.  Humans are not more important than animals.  We are guardians of the animal- and nature kingdom.  To be a guardian means to take care of something or someone.  What we call unconditional love, is nothing more that love. Love, in its purest form, does not expect something in return. Giving love (time, energy, attention, and so forth), should be given because you want to. Love also means that there is mutual respect, trust, honesty and living in harmony.  When we can live in harmony again with nature, nature will provide us with abundance.  There is abundance; we must just relearn how to work with nature and not against her.

Whether it is a wild animal, like a dolphin or bird, or a domesticated one, all they want from us is respect and love.  I don’t know about you, but I found nature to not only be a great teacher, but also an example of how to just be in the moment. To let “nature takes its course,” is, perhaps, what makes life a little easier. Although animals and insects don’t think the same as humans, they too have feelings. Just go onto YouTube and watch videos about animals losing someone, or being rescued. Their faces and/or tails, say it all! So, let us let us look after them and return the love, affection and attention, that they give us – not to mention the many laughs and smiles as well!

What a small change can do for you

I don’t know about you, but there are times in my life when I just need a change.  Whether it is a change in my wardrobe, a new haircut or changing the décor or layout in a room, making a change makes a huge difference.

Most people spring-clean once a year; others regularly go through their stuff and throw out what is not being used anymore.  Decluttering both our homes, office, cupboards and our minds, not only bring peace and joy into our lives, but it is as if we feel “lighter.”  It always amazes me to listen to people who literally just travel with 1 or 2 suitcases and that is all!  Even though I have been decluttering the last couple of years, there are still some things in my home that I am not ready to part with.  My shell collection, for example, is something that is rare to find these days.  My memorabilia from my days of travelling, is another example. 

In the past I also kept things that was my gran’s, purely for sentimental reasons. Luckily that has changed.  Now I got to a point in my life where I realized that I should only keep things that I either use regularly and/or brings me joy.  These changes, albeit small, does make a difference.  Even just having my haircut makes me feel “lighter.” 

Change (-s) can be daunting; especially if it is not something that was planned or expected.  Many people go into panic-mode when these types of changes happen and that is ok.  However, you should never let any kind of change drag you down for long periods.  Change is inevitable and, as the saying goes, the only constant in life!  It is the way we deal with change that can either bring us lots of tears or lots of joy. 

If you are trying to lose weight, for example, but don’t know where to start, then start small.  Instead of taking the lift, use the stairs; instead of parking your car close to the shopping mall-entrance, park further away.  If you are trying to cut back on what you eat / snack on, start by eating less / smaller portions.  Many people cannot go “cold turkey” straight away, thus give yourself time and take it step by step. Small changes might not seem like you have achieved much, but it doesn’t matter what others think.  It matters only what you think, what you do, and the commitment you have to bring about change in your life.

Changes can be anything from a new haircut, hair colour, new outfit, new furniture or simply re-arranging furniture or replacing small things like scatter cushions.  It is amazing what a new look (either your look or that of your home) can do on your psyche.  If you need inspiration, just look outside.  Nature provides us with so many colours and fragrances throughout the year; showing us that change is and can be beautiful. 

Whatever change (-s) you want to make, just do it!  Regardless what it is, know that you are doing it for yourself.  If you want to redecorate but have a limited budget, try some DIY or look around at second hand- or charity shops.  Changing the colour of your cushions can change the look of a room, for example.  A haircut or a new outfit can also change your mood.  Whatever it is that you’d like to change, just start.  If it is something big, then take it one day at a time.  Just start and keep going!