Immune boosting-plants

There are many plants, for example herbs, that most of us use in our kitchen’s almost on a daily basis.  Many of these plants have wonderful immune boosting-qualities in.  As you know, maintaining a strong immune system is key to your health and well-being.  When it is “out of sync,” then dis-ease manifests.  Here are a few plants (herbs), that you can easily plant in your garden, or in a pot, to use when you are cooking.

Calendula

The Calendula’s petals have antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties in. The more intense its colour, the higher the level of active ingredients.

Growing Calendula:  these plants are frost hardy.  Calendula likes full sunlight and fertile soil that drains well.  On average, it grows to 45 cm in height, and about 30 cm wide.  All it needs is a liquid fertilizer once a month, and removing the dead flowers, that will encourage new flowers.

Using Calendula:  pick the flowers in the morning, when the water content is at its highest.  Pluck the petals and use it to make a tea.  This tea will help to clear infections (due to its antiviral actions).  The tea can also be used as a detox and to balance the digestive system, liver and gall bladder.

Making Calendula tea:  cut up 2 teaspoons of petals in a glass jug and pour 750 ml of just-boiled water over.  Cover it and let it steep for 10 minutes, before straining.  Enjoy!

Parsley

Rich in vitamin C, A and minerals such as iron, parsley provides good protection against colds and flu.  The darker the leaves, the higher the iron-content.

Growing Parsley:  Parsley is best grown in full sun.  it likes deep, fertile soil that drains well.  Make sure to plant out the new plants every 6 months; especially if you harvest on a regular basis, otherwise it develops a stem, which reduces its yield.

How to use Parsley:  2 tablespoons per day as a garnish or juiced, should keep the doctor away!  A mild-flavoured tea can also be made from parsley, which you sip 3x per day as a digestive or tonic.

Thyme

Thyme has strong aromatic, antiseptic leaves, containing thymol (an antifungal).  Thymol helps to treat throat and chest infections like bronchitis and whooping cough.  Thyme is also an excellent tonic herb, which strengthens the lungs and immune system.

Growing Thyme:  Thyme is a small, bushy perennial that needs full sun. It tolerates poor soil and responds well to regular trimming.  Thyme needs to be fertilized 1x per month or 2x, if you are picking it constantly.

How to use Thyme:  the leaves are wonderful to use in slow-cooked, meaty stews or soups.  Whole sprigs can be added at the beginning of cooking and removed just before serving.  Or you can strip the leaves from the stem, chop it and leave it in the dish when it is served.  You can also make a tea from the Thyme-leaves; by placing leaves in boiled water and letting it steam for a few minutes.  This can be drunk 3x per day, but not longer than a week, as it can affect iron absorption.  Therefore, if you have high iron-levels, either drink this 1x per month or, if unsure, ask a health practitioner or wellness shop. 

Oregano

When you hear Oregano, you immediately think of Italian food!  That is because it is used in many of their dishes.  The leaves are highly antiseptic and used to treat coughs, tonsillitis, bronchitis and asthma.

Growing Oregano:  Oregano is a hardy, perennial herb, that loves full sun and attracts butterflies.  It can survive heat and cold winters.  There are 2 types of Oregano.  Variegated Oregano (O vulgare “variegate”) has cream and green leaves; a lovely groundcover.  The golden, upright variety has striking foliage.

Often associated with Italian food, especially tomato-based sauces, the leaves are highly antiseptic and are used to treat coughs, tonsillitis, bronchitis and asthma.

How to use it Oregano:  the leaves have a robust flavour, which works well in cooking.  Not just tomato sauces, but also roasted vegetables, soups, stews and bread.  Dried oregano has a much stronger flavour than the fresh leaves, so make sure not to put too much in your dish when using the dried leaves.

Asian greens

Asian greens like tatsoi, mizuna and Pak choy, are fairly good sources of vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamins B2 and B6, folic acid, iron and magnesium, as well as calcium.

Growing Asian greens:  Apart from Mizuna (which prefers partial shade), all other Asian greens do best in full sun.  Fertile, well-composed, well-draining soil, is important.  Also make sure to plant plants with edible flowers like nasturtiums and violas, next to it, for colour.

How to use Asian greens:  Tatsoi leaves are crunchy and lightly peppery; delicious in salads, soups and stir-fries. Pak choi has mild, peppery flavoured leaves that can be cooked like spinach and the stems steamed like asparagus. Mizuna leaves have a pleasant peppery flavour, reminiscent of rocket but sweeter and can be used in salads, in stir-fries or steamed.

Spinach

I am sure many of us remember Popeye, the sailor man, that ate spinach almost daily.  He must’ve known that it is loaded with vitamins C, K, minerals, plant protein, flavonoids and iron, which act as antioxidants.  The darker the leaves, the higher the content.  It is a cool-season vegetable and, if you cannot find it, opt for Swiss chard.

Growing Spinach:  Spinach must be planted in full sun, fertile, well-composted soil, and watered regularly.  When you want to harvest spinach, cut / twist the leaves off from the base of the plant.  Make sure to harvest the biggest leaves and not the small ones (unless it is a baby spinach, of course).  When harvest season is over, the plants’ leaves start to flop and the plant can be removed.  However, if it is only a few leaves that flop, then it could mean that the plant is either not getting enough sunlight and/or water. 

How to use Spinach:  Cooking spinach with the lid off will release the sulphurous smell of the spinach.  Make sure the water is salty in order to preserve its flavour.  Careful not to overcook it, unless you are using it in a quiche or want to make cream spinach.  Another good idea is to stir fry it in a pan, with some added butter or oil.

Other healthy options  

There are more options to choose from to use in your kitchen.  For example, butternut, all the brassicas like broccoli, cabbage and kale in particular, carrots, garden peas, garlic, leeks, onions (both the red and white onion) and sweet potatoes.

Before you go shopping next time, make sure to choose a dish that incorporates one / more of the above-mentioned ingredients.  Organic plants, herbs, vegetables and fruit are always the better option, as it is free from pesticides and other harmful things.  Another great option is to plant your own (either from a small plant or seeds).  Planting it is organic soil is the best choice, then you know what you are using (and eating) are as healthy as it can get.

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Biorhythms

How you feel each day, depends on your biorhythms.  Biorhythms is the body’s natural “body clock;” it is the natural cycle that the body goes to each and every day.  Our biorhythms are influenced by our mood, the weather, a certain time of year / month and our overall outlook in life.  Our mind also plays a huge part, as your thoughts and the things you tell yourself, influence you far more than you realize.

In the days before clocks, watches and other “time-telling” devices, our ancestors lived in rhythm with nature.  Just like the animals, they rose when the sun got up and went to sleep when it is dark.  Today everything has been turned “upside-down,” so to speak.  Many people work night-shifts, thus their bodies had to re-adapt to be awake during the night and sleep during the day.  Not like nature intended!  Other people enjoy staying up late when they are out and about and either get little sleep or sleep till late the next day.  I am not saying it is wrong; I was also a youngster that enjoyed staying up long passed midnight and sleeping till almost lunchtime the next morning.

However, if we want to be more balanced and more in-sync with the natural rhythms of nature and our bodies, then maybe it is not a bad idea to work with our body-clock instead of ignoring it.  biorhythms can go up and down; it is natural.  In summer you have more energy than in winter (or vice versa).  Women have their cycles that can impact their body clocks.  Your thoughts and what you say to yourself, can also play a role.  Why?  Because our thoughts create our reality and, if you constantly say things like “I am lazy,” then lo and behold, you can / will become lazy.  Before you worry about the hours you work and how it affects your body clock, relax.  Humans, like nature, evolved through the ages and have adapted quite well. 

Listening to your body’s needs is the one thing that has not changed throughout the ages.  If your biorhythms are feeling a bit off, then take some time-out to relax more or to take a nap.  Power-napping is a wonderful way to recharge; 10 – 20 minutes is enough.  Some experts believe that a power-nap can be 30 minutes.  Afternoons are often times when many people “slump.”  It is a time when our energy-levels can drop, so in order to counter that, make sure to snack on a protein or fruit.  Both protein and fruit are good choices as a “pick-me-up” to get you to the end of the day.  Chips, biscuits and sweets are not the best option, as they will let your blood sugar spike high very fast and then it will crash down (even lower than what it was).

Exercise, of course, is another excellent way to keep the energy-levels up and to destress, so make sure to make time to move; even if it is just going for a walk-in nature (which, by the way, is an excellent doctor, psychiatrist and teacher).

Personally, I think animals do it best.  In wintertime they take it easy, they nap when they feel the need to (or hibernate like bears) and they eat what is in season.  During the spring-and summer months it is as if nature comes alive again with new energies.  Maybe not such a bad idea if you can copy nature?  Alas, it is not so easy to do or even possible, for some, due to our modern style of living.  The best you can do is to take time to relax and destress before you get home; to stop looking at your phones or computers at least 30 minutes before we go to bed – otherwise your brain cannot switch off completely; and to make sure your bedroom is dark to get a good night’s rest.

Trying to mimic nature’s clocks is not always easy or possible, but I think when small changes are made (as mentioned in the previous paragraph), then more can be accomplished when energy is needed.

Healthy tips from Leonardo da Vinci

Recently I came across a short article, describing the wonderful artist, Leonardo da Vinci.  Although times have changed tremendously and our world is filled with electronics, electricity, and so on, maintaining a healthy lifestyle has not changed. I have written about healthy eating habits, exercising and general well-being before.  Today I decided to share, with you, the healthy tips from the artist himself.

  • Do not eat when you have no appetite; and dine lightly;
  • Chew your food well;
  • Whatever you are eating, should be well-cooked and of simple ingredients;
  • He who takes medicine is ill advised;
  • Beware of anger and stuffy air;
  • Stay standing a while after you have eaten;
  • Do not sleep at midday;
  • Mix your wine with water and take little sips at a time;
  • Never drink wine on an empty stomach, nor between meals;
  • Neither delay nor prolong your visit to the toilet;
  • If you exercise, let it not be too strenuous;
  • Do not lie on your back when you sleep;
  • Make sure you are well covered when you sleep;
  • Rest your head and keep your mind cheerful;
  • Avoid wantonness.

Here are my thoughts on Leonardo’s tips.  If you are unsure whether or not you are really hungry, then drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes.  If you are hungry, your stomach will let you know, but many times we are not really hungry; but thirsty.

Chewing your food well is important, because the saliva must mix with the food in order for it to be broken down and used, by the intestines.  When we don’t chew properly, we tend to feel bloated after a meal and/or uncomfortable.  Many Yogis believe that you should chew each bite 40 times! 

There is a saying: “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”  Indeed, this is not always viable, as many households are out the whole day, thus dinner-time is the main meal of the day.  I think the best tip, that I can give here, is to eat dinner (if possible) before 20:00; preferably before 19:00.

Taking medicine…the jury is still out when it comes to traditional vs pharmaceutical medicines.  I do not want to step into a hornet’s nest, so to speak, but I am a firm believer in the natural, holistic medical practises.  Homeopathy, for example, don’t just treat the symptoms, but also the cause of the illness (allergy).  Many people are prescribed too many medicines without doctors checking to see if the medicines clash or not.  If you change your lifestyle, then you are halfway there.  However, there are certain illnesses that require medical intervention and that is ok.  As long as you know what the pros and cons are of the medicine, you should be fine.

Ahh yes; I have written blog posts re anger and how to get rid of it; not to carry it with you but to forgive and forget.  Too much anger is not only detrimental to your body, your health and your emotional state, but it can cause havoc in your everyday relationships as well.  Never go to bed angry; always clear the air if you were in a fight.  Otherwise, you will either have a bad night’s sleep (as it is stuck in your subconscious mind) or, what will you do if something happens and you don’t get the chance to apologize?  Then guilt follows and that is just as bad as anger.

There is a German saying, that says “after you have eaten, you must stand or walk a thousand steps.”  This is good advice, because it will help the digestive system to work at optimum level, especially if you had a big Sunday-lunch!  This, I believe, is also why Leonardo didn’t believe in taking a nap at midday.  It is better to go for a walk, or stand a while, after your lunch, for example, than to nap.  Why?  Because the body’s clock does certain things at certain times of the day.  In the daytime, for example, the body needs the food for energy to carry you through the day.  In the evening, when we (if possible) have lighter meals, then the body uses the food not just for energy, but to nourish the cells and organs.  If you do take a nap, try not to nap for more than 20 minutes.  A power-nap is 10 minutes and does wonders to “recharge your batteries.”

Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach – that is self-explanatory!  Mixing your wine with water?  Some will say yes, others no way!  However, drinking it slowly and not gulping it down, is, of course, far better and more polite.

When you need to go to the restroom, go.  Regular bowel movement is also important; listen to your body at all times.

Exercising:  strenuous or not strenuous?  I believe both form of exercise routines is good for you; the main thing to remember is to do what you can and, if you do have an injury, to be careful with certain exercises.  For example, if you have knee injuries or knee problems, rather walk, swim or bounce on a trampoline, instead of running.

Leonardo didn’t believe that it is good for you to sleep on your back.  Many people, however, do find it comfortable.  I personally prefer to sleep on my side; again, you choose what works for you.  And yes, do make sure you are well covered; especially during winter. It is important, as he believed, to “rest your head.”  Quiet the mind, let go of worries, stress and anything that is bothering you.  Meditate or have some quiet-time, before you close your eyes. 

Clearing the mind is important for a good night’s rest, otherwise you will wake up the next morning feeling as if you never slept.  At the end of each day, think of at least 5 things that you are grateful for.  Whether it is being grateful for what you have, or whether it is what happened during the day, always say thank you for what you have.  Being grateful for what you have will make you more positive and change your outlook in life.  It will also “rewire” your brain and make your mind more cheerful.

The last tip that Leonardo gave, was to avoid wantonness.  This, I believe, is self-explanatory, but very true.  Leonardo da Vinci lived in an interesting time of our history, although not always an easy time period. It was a time of renewal, which I believe, that we are heading to.  The above tips were written, by Leonardo, in 1515, four years before his death.  He was an artist, scientist, inventor, mathematician, engineer, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer.  A man before his time!

Creating a bedroom-oasis

Recently I read an article, by Kim Williams (a creative behaviour strategist), who said that people create spaces on an intelligent subconscious level.  Whether it is the bedroom, bathroom, living space or kitchen in our homes, each space should align with what we like and be inviting, yet peaceful, at the same time.  Bedrooms are mainly used for sleeping and/or getting dressed.  However, in some smaller spaces, one part / nook of the room is often converted into a small office space.  When we are designing and decorating our bedroom, there are a few things to consider (apart from the colour-scheme, type of furniture and layout of the room).

Functionality is key when you design and decorate the room.  A bachelor’s bedroom will look quite different than that of a couple’s bedroom, for example.  Deciding what experience you want, what mood (atmosphere) you want to create, is another important factor.  Do you want it to be romantic, luxurious like a hotel room or tranquil?  When you and/or your partner have decided what the functionality and feel of the room will be, then you can go ahead and choose the décor, style and colour scheme.

The energy and flow of the room is important.  When you pay attention to where you sit or stand in a room, it will give you insight into how you move through your space.  When there is a good flow of energy throughout your spaces, then you can easily achieve the mood you want.  Keeping in mind that some rooms can restrict you with the layout of the furniture, you can still achieve what you want by choosing the right pieces of furniture and colour schemes.

Getting inspiration from magazines, books and the internet, will help you to “put together” your room.  Looking at the shapes, lines, colours, patterns and layout of rooms, are key when it comes to designing a room.  you can also take “bits and bobs” from different pictures and make your own designer board, before buying everything.  Whether it is your bedroom or any other living space in your home, it is important to choose pieces (or add pieces to what you already have), that you can live with for a few years. 

Using less expensive pieces can elevate a look; just know where to shop and what to look out for.  When it comes to your bedroom, make sure to spend money on a good quality bedframe and mattress.  The side tables don’t have to “break the bank;” neither the scatter cushions, lights, and so forth.  When you get tired of the colour scheme, for example, you can either buy new covers for your scatter cushions, a new duvet cover or change your lampshade.  If you are good at DIY, you can make your own things; even just painting a picture frame will change the look.

Depending on the size of your home, some bedrooms can be multifunctional.  Some people use it as a dressing room, others as an office space or exercise-area.  If you are using it as an office space, for example, make sure that your dressing table can also double as a desk.  Colour and accessories can make or break a room, especially when it is multifunctional.  Make sure to keep the area tidy, use boxes or baskets for storage.  A blanket-box, for example, at the end of the bed, can store blankets and/or anything else you don’t need every day.

A key element, when planning the room, is having fun.  It doesn’t matter if you combine the “old” with the “new” (whether it is old and new furniture pieces, or a painting).  You must create a space where you would feel comfortable, would invite you in, where you not only relax, but also am happy.  Furniture, colour and the types of accessories we use, must all fit together like a puzzle.  If there is something that is outdated or doesn’t fit into your mental picture, rather replace or redo it.

A bedroom is not just a place where we sleep.  It is a place where people like to read a book, work on their computer, get dressed, and so on.  Indeed, it is a space where we spend many hours sleeping, but even then, the room must be inviting, relaxing and have a good flow of energy.  There is nothing worse than not having a good night’s sleep – the colours you choose, where you place your furniture and how the space looks, all play a role when it comes to having a good night’s sleep.  Therefore, make sure to plan your space before you make changes or start decorating.  In previous blog posts I have written about the art of Feng Shui, as well as minimalism.  No matter what your style; make sure that it reflects you and/or your partner’s style.  Let the energies flow in a positive way and enjoy your space!

Homemade remedies for colds and coughs

There are many natural remedies, that have been used (and are still being used), by hundreds of people around the world.  Many of the ingredients in natural remedies can be found in your kitchen cupboard and/or your vegetable- and herb garden.

Natural painkillers (found in most kitchen cupboards) include:

Garlic (for earache), Apple Cider Vinegar (for heartburn), Cherries (for joint pain), Peppermint (for sore muscles), Water (for injury pain), Cloves (for toothache), Turmeric (for chronic pain), Pineapple (for bloating), Horseradish (for sinus pain) and Blueberries (for urinary tract infections).

Some of the above can be added to recipes, whilst some can be made into a tincture or poultice.  Turmeric, combined with cinnamon, for example, is not only good for chronic pain.  It is also great as an anti-inflammatory (the turmeric) and stabilizes cholesterol (cinnamon).

Today I would also like to share with you, 2 recipes that I got off a natural remedies-group.  The first one is a remedy for colds and flus; the other for coughing.

Colds and flu:

Ingredients

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

Pinch of black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

2 garlic cloves, finely cut

Double the amount of ginger, finely cut

1 teaspoon real honey

2 x 1000mg vitamin C (powder)

2 x Zinc tablets, finely pressed

¾ lukewarm water

Add all the ingredients in the lukewarm water and stir well.  Take a sip or 2, stir, and repeat.  This mixture can be taken for up to 4 times per day.

Natural cough syrup:

Slice 1 onion and put it into a glass bottle.  Put brown sugar over the onion.  Repeat this combination until the bottle is full (almost full).

Leave it overnight; it will form a syrup.

You can take 2 teaspoons full, as needed. 

This is also safe for children, but make sure to decrease dosage if the child is still small.

Another good, natural cough remedy, is fresh pineapple juice.  Pineapple has loads of bromelain and vitamin C in, which is wonderful to give your immune system a boost.  Don’t forget, the chicken-broth that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers spoke about, also works well!

More tips to keep your brain alert and healthy

Apart from eating oily fish or taking an Omega-oil supplement, watching your diet, exercising and making sure to get rid of stress, what else can you do? Here a few, interesting, tips.

Rosemary oil: there is an old saying, “rosemary for remembrance,” that is still valid today. Putting one / two drops of rosemary oil on each foot, will clear your mind and help you to think clearly. It is proven that rosemary improves your alertness, recall and overall cognitive performance, by increasing blood circulation to the surface of your brain. Make sure, however, not to do this when you go to bed; unless you want to lie awake all night!

Fatty acids (DHA), like Omega-oil, affects the very architecture of your brain. This, in turn, affects your emotional, mental and physical performance. The fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in particular, is the important one, as this is concentrated in certain areas of the brain that require a lot of electrical activity. Cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, are good sources. However, if you don’t eat a lot of fish, use a supplement, as you need 400 – 800 mg a day. For optimum synthesis of fatty acids, add a vitamin B-supplement; 400 – 800 mg a day.

Taking Ginkgo biloba is also a good supplement to boost blood flow to the brain. It improves elasticity, supplies nutrients and takes toxins away.

We all know that smoking is bad for our health, just like drinking too much caffeine and eating plenty of junk / processed / ready-made meals. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels, prevent sleep and dehydrates you. It is one thing to have 2 cups of coffee per day, for example, but when you drink only coffee and more than 2 cups per day, it can become a serious health problem. Alcohol is another substance that is toxic to your cerebellum, which controls coordination and the speed of processing information. Your brain is 80% water; 8 – 10 glasses of water is important.

When you are thirsty it is a signal of your body that it is already starting to dehydrate! The main thing is: there is nothing wrong with drinking coffee, Ceylon tea or alcohol. It is the amount that counts; as is the size of the wine glass! The Europeans drink 1, maximum 2, glasses of wine with their meals; and that is it. It is not necessary to “finish the bottle” once it is open.

Instead of trying to remember everyone’s name, address, telephone number, and so on, make use of a diary in your handbag, on your phone or on your laptop. Life is just easier if you have a “birthday list” written down somewhere, for example.

Mediation and practising yoga are wonderful ways to not only relax, but also stimulate the brain, increase circulation and lift your overall mood. In a study done in 2003, it was noted that, by only meditating for 12 minutes a day, the brain function improved drastically. Not only did it reduce the cortisol (stress hormone) levels, but it also stimulated the circulation to the brain and activity in the frontal lobe. This is wonderful for attention and focus, as well as uplifting your mood.

Yoga, in general, teaches the body and mind to connect; it teaches the pupil to become aware of what is going on inside the body, to work with the breath and to breathe more deeply. Pilates is also another form of linking body and mind, but Yoga takes it a step further. In Yoga, there are certain poses that one does to either relax and unwind, or stimulate and energize both body and mind. Downward Facing Dog will help to “pick you up” when you are feeling foggy and tired. It calms the mind / scattered thoughts and helps you to focus. Standing in this pose, your head is lower than your heart, which helps to bring oxygenated blood to the brain. When you do this pose, you can do it with either bent or straight legs; do remember to look towards your hands or keep your head centred. Don’t look at your feet and relax your shoulders and jaw.

Biofeedback, Body Talk, Core Regeneration Therapy and Regression, are just a few of many techniques that people use today to get rid of the deep-seated stress triggers that is stuck in the subconscious mind. If you are unsure about it, speak to someone who has gone for such a therapy-session and do make sure that the therapist is well-qualified. We are made to function as a unite and, if one part of the unite is out of sync, then the rest of the body is too. For me personally, I think the key to keeping your brain functioning at optimum level for as long as possible, is a good diet, exercise, getting rid of stress and not to grab a tablet (if you don’t have too). Instead, practise the above and eat healthy.

Use it…or lose it? Or maybe not!

Many elderly people start to lose their short-term memory as they get older.  I have often wondered why and, in my opinion, it comes down to a couple of reasons: Not having a fixed schedule anymore (for example, go to work, pick up the kids), can be one reason.  The other might have to do with our diet, what we do to stimulate our brain and/or medication.  Another factor that plays a role is stress.  As we know, long-term stress can and will, create havoc to your physical-, emotional- and psychological health.  In today’s rushed environment, our bodies are often overstimulated with too much caffeine, junk food, and other substances.  Having a stressful job or living somewhere where there is crime, can raise our cortisol levels, thus leading to memory problems.

However, all is definitely not lost and there are plenty of advice that will help you not only to get rid of your stress, but also keep your brain sharp and active; no matter what your age!  Meditation, relaxation, doing yoga or going for a walk (without your cell phone and/or earphones), will do wonders for body, mind and soul.  We cannot really relax indoors / outdoors and connect with nature, if we are “hooked” onto our cell phones, laptops and/or earphones.  There is nothing more relaxing than to be in nature, listening to and observing your surroundings.  Indeed, playing classical music is fantastic!  Not only to relax, but also to boost your brainpower and memory.  It is a well-known fact, proven over and over again, that Baroque music especially, is fantastic when you are studying and/or need to concentrate.

Use memory tricks and learn a new skill.  For example, the word “BEBMOT,” can be used to remember to buy bread, eggs, butter, milk, oats and tissues.  Using visualization can also help.  Imagine your bread is on the fireplace, the eggs are in your bathtub, the butter is in a vase, the milk is on the table, the oats are on your bed and the tissues are in the fridge!  Something silly will trigger the brain to remember; the same way if you link things by association.  Writing down what you need to buy is also a good idea, especially if the list is quite long.  Learning a new skill, like knitting or playing bridge, is another way to stimulate the mind and keep the brain functioning at optimum levels.  Doing crosswords, doing art (colouring in) and/or practising a musical instrument, are also ways to help boost your memory.

Having an organized routine makes all the difference.  Decide the night before what you are going to wear the next day; pack the lunch boxes the night before; have a “to do-list” and tick it off as you finish one job after the other.  If there is anything on your list that you haven’t done or finished, relax.  Tomorrow is another day.  Make time to “declutter” your mind.    Whether it is by taking a hot shower / bath with candlelight, or sitting down with a nice cuppa and/or soft, relaxing music, meditating, or going for a jog / walk / exercising before going home, there are many ways to get rid of stress and unwind.

As mentioned earlier, exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body.  Doing crosswords, sudoku, reading, socializing with friends, learning a new skill or language, building a puzzle, learning to play a musical instrument, doing art or dancing, are all “exercises” for your brain.  Every time you learn something new or do something that challenges your mind, your brain forms new connections between the neurons.  Being in a job that you not only love, but that also challenges you mentally, is also important.  There is nothing worse than to be in a job that is not mentally stimulating, emotionally draining and/or plain boring!

Exercising the body has a direct link to a healthy mind.  When you exercise it increases the oxygen and nutrients to the brain, the organs and stimulates the flow of energy.  When you don’t exercise, smoke, eat junk foods regularly and/or drink alcohol often, you not only deprive your body from the vital nutrients it needs to stay healthy.  You also deprive your brain from “brain food.”  Indeed, taking a supplement like Omega-3 is good, but you cannot only take supplements and not look after your diet and not exercise.  We are made to move; our bodies want to move to make sure it gets oxygen in and to help the lymphatic system to get rid of toxins.

Getting back to stress.  We all know that stress is not always good; especially long-term stress.  Not only does it affect our mood, cause anxiety and/or depression, but it can also affect the neurons in the brain.  As mentioned earlier you can do many things to get rid of stress.  However, if you still find yourself stressing too much, then best to get help.  Body Talk or Core Regeneration might help; talking to someone is also good.  Remember; you have a conscious- and subconscious mind.  The subconscious mind is like the hard drive of a computer:  it stores everything you think, everything you (or someone else) says and cannot differentiate between what is true and what is not true.  Thus, something like Core Regeneration or Body Talk, can help you to get rid of the deep-seated “triggers” that causes the stress.  Try it, before you grab the anti-depressant pills – after all, you cannot live on these pills all your life!

Lastly; breathing plays a huge role in all of the above.  The deeper and slower you can inhale and exhale, the better.  Not only will more oxygen circulate throughout the body, but it will automatically calm you down and help you to relax.  If you are in a situation where you cannot go outside, for example, to “catch your breath,” then try closing your eyes for a couple of seconds.  Take a slow, deep breath in and think / visualize being somewhere else.  Slowly exhale and consciously relax your muscles; especially the tense-areas.  Visualization / imagination is a great tool to help you relax, destress and unwind, no matter where you are!

Pest-control; the natural way

In today’s blog I am going to steer away from health & fitness, and look at how you can keep pests like ants, spiders, mice and other bugs, away from and out of your house.  I haven’t tried all of it yet, as I don’t have to worry about some bugs.  However, I would love to hear from my readers what they have used and/or what works and what doesn’t. 

Many different pest-repellents can be easily bought at the grocery store.  However, if it is not made from natural, biodegradable substances, it can cause more harm than good.  Not just to the environment, but also to you, your family and/or pets.  Did you know that many of the “synthetic” pest-repellents can cause allergies, headache, diarrhoea, mental confusion, weakness, loss of reflexes, unconsciousness and even death!  Here is the list I found on YouTube – maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.  But I think give it a try!

  • Peppermint oil:  many people in the UK uses this to keep out spiders.  Mice and ants also don’t like the smell.  You can dilute it a little bit with water, or use it as is, by placing some oil on cotton balls and leaving it where the “creepy crawlies” like to be;
  • Basil:  cinnamon and lemon-basil will keep certain Anopheles Gambia complex (mosquitos carrying malaria) away;
  • Lavender:  mosquitos, moths, house flies and fleas don’t like lavender;
  • Catnip:  ants, mice and mosquitos don’t like catnip.  If you don’t want the neighbour’s cat to come into your garden, then make sure NOT to plant catnip!
  • Rosemary:  flies and mosquitoes do not like the smell of rosemary;
  • Eucalyptus essential oil:  spiders will stay clear of your home if you use eucalyptus essential oil;
  • Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda):  roaches don’t like bicarbonate of soda;
  • Marigold flowers:  flies and mosquitos will stay clear of your home and, planting marigolds in-between your vegetable patch, will keep “creepy crawlies” from eating your veggies;
  • Dryer-sheets:  the verdict is still out – some say this repels mice, others say it doesn’t;
  • Peanut butter:  will keep mice at bay;
  • Aluminium foil:  the sound it makes deter mice as their sensitive ears don’t like it;
  • Borax:  ants, rodents, termites, roaches, spiders and even mould, can be kept at bay when using borax.  Do, however, make sure to use gloves and a mask as the fumes are toxic.  Rather stay clear if you or anyone in your home is allergic and careful if you have pets;
  • Steel wool and copper mesh:  these are 2 of the things that mice cannot chew, so place it in the areas where they like to come into your home;
  • Cayenne pepper:  sprinkling cayenne pepper in your garden will deter wild animals from eating your plants (for example rabbits and squirrels), as well as deter ants and roaches;
  • Neem:  neem- & coconut oil can keep different types of mosquitos away, especially those carrying malaria.  You can either apply the oil onto your skin, burn or heat the leaves;
  • Lemon thyme:  also good at keeping mosquitos at bay.

I am not sure whether lavender will deter ants, I must be honest.  My neighbour has a lavender-bush on the side of his veranda and he still complains about ants!  However, I think it depends on what type of lavender and that the oil has a stronger scent than the bush!  Who knows?  What I do know is that, according to many people living in the UK, peppermint oil works for spiders – and that is great!! 

Let me know what you think and/or used that works…

The benefits (and wonders) of Rebounding (bouncing)

In my previous blog post, I wrote about rebounding (bouncing).  When you bounce on a trampoline, you bounce approximately 100 times a minute.  At the top of each bounce, your entire body, including your clothes and hair, are weightless (gravity / no gravity).  Being at the top of your bounce (in the air, so to speak), makes you weightless as there is no drag / pull from gravity.  A second later, when you hit the trampoline again, your body, clothes and even your hair, weighs double – also known as “double impact!”  Thus, the result is that, 100 times per minute, you are experiencing between 2 and 4Gs.  Every single cell in your body is being squeezed or “massaged” and this is what activates the lymphatic system.

Bouncing invigorates the body, mind and spirit.  It oxygenates, detox, nourishes and allows nutrients to be more easily absorbed by the cells.  Humans, like everything and everyone else in nature, is made up of energy.  When you bounce, you are generating bio-electricity!  This makes you feel alive and, if you think about it, children laugh when they bounce!

Another benefit of bouncing is muscle toning.  As explained in the above paragraph, the pull between gravity and no-gravity.  Being on a trampoline, it doesn’t matter that your body weight doubles, coming down, because of the springs of the trampoline.  Keeping your knees slightly bent at all times, when you bounce, is important.  Together with the give-and-take of the trampoline and springs, rebounding puts no strain or stress on your joints (unlike jogging).  Everyone can rebound, regardless of health and age.  One can even place a wheelchair-bound person’s feet on the trampoline and get someone to bounce.  People suffering from arthritis, osteoarthritis and even those who had hip replacements, can benefit from bouncing.

Rebounding can also help with: 

Minimizing occurrence of colds, allergies and digestive problems;

It boosts your energy levels, aiding in concentration as well as sleep;

Tones the glandular system;

Strengthens the muscular / skeletal system;

Increases lung capacity for better breathing and establishes an equilibrium between available and oxygen needed by tissues;

Improves quality of sleep, relaxation and concentration / focus;

Helps the body to burn more calories during the resting metabolic rate, thus aids in weight problems;

Expands fuel storage-capacity (increase of mitochondria count within the muscle cells that is essential for endurance);

Aids in maintaining a more alkaline pH in the body (the more the body can get rid of toxins, the less chance for arthritis, gout and other acid-related health issues);

It protects the joints from chronic fatigue and injuries due to exercising on a hard surface;

It lowers cholesterol-levels, triglyceride-levels, pulse rate and blood pressure;

Improves circulation and assists in rehabilitation of heart problems (boosts red cells that carrier oxygen);

Promotes tissue repair and can slow down atrophy in the ageing process;

Brings relief to headaches, back pains and/or neck pains;

Improves balance and coordination (regardless of age).

Rebounding is just fantastic.  Two minutes is the equivalent of 6 minutes of running, 10 minutes of swimming and 22 minutes of walking!  A study was done a year or 2 ago.  One person was bouncing and another was running on a treadmill.  After only 30 minutes of bouncing, the person on the trampoline’s heart rate, oxygen levels and cardio-levels, were exactly the same as the person running on the treadmill for an hour! 

It is never too late and you are never too old, to start rebounding.  There are many kinds of trampolines on the market; some with a sidebar and others not.  Most of the mini-trampolines have got legs that can be taken off for easy storage.  Just make sure you are buying from a reputable brand, that it is good quality, that the frame is sturdy, the mats of high quality and the springs are strong.  If you have never done this before, start off slowly and find your rhythm.  Start with 2 or 5 minutes a day, then do it for longer as you get more used to it.  In the beginning you might have mild dizziness and/or “wobbly” legs, when getting off, as your body adapts to the G-force. 

Always breathe deep and slowly and stand still for a few seconds, before you get off the rebounder.  Remember to stretch afterwards (especially the legs) and drink water.  The water is important as it helps the lymphatic system (that was kickstarted by the bouncing), to flush out the waste and toxins.  Whether you just walk / mark on the rebounder, or bounce, always listen to your body.  No matter how long / short the first few sessions are, it is a start.  Soon enough, you will be bouncing without noticing the time!  I, for one, am very happy to see that it is coming back, because it works!

“Unlike our heart which pumps blood throughout our body, the lymphatic system does not have a specific pump of its own.  It relies on muscular contraction from movement and exercise, as well as gravitational pressure and deep breathing to work.  When we’re active, we pump it – when we sit, it slows right down.  Considering this, it becomes clear why there is so much sickness and disease in the world today.  Cars, computers and tv’s have literally turned us into sitting ducks!”

The joys of bouncing

Ever wondered why babies like to bounce?  Instinctively they know that it is good for them; and for digestion!  What am I talking about, you might wonder?  I am talking about your lymphatic system, also known as the “waste-basket” of the body.  The lymphatic system helps the body to get rid of toxins and other waste in the body.  Bouncing or rebounding as it is called in many countries, are a fantastic way to help the lymphatic system to get rid of all the toxins and waste.  When you are bouncing (either on a Pilates ball, sitting down, or on a trampoline), gravity comes into play.  It is this G-force that kicks the lymph’s valves into action.

Bouncing is not just great fun; it is also a fantastic way to boost the lymphatic system, detox the body and boost your immune system.  it is one of the safest ways to get fit, loose weight, tone your body and get the heartrate up.  When the lymphatic system doesn’t function optimally, your cells rapidly become susceptible to degeneration, for example fatigue, headaches, allergies, weight problems, premature ageing, as well as chronic and acute illness and disease.

According to lymphologists, your body’s 60 trillion cells are like jellies and, ideally, the cells should sit snugly together in a “dry state.”  This means that there shouldn’t be excess fluid surrounding the cells.  When the cells are in this “dry state,” the loss of energy, disease and degeneration cannot, theoretically, happen.  The lymphatic system is responsible for not only removing toxins, but also any excess fluid, thus it is often referred to as the “garbage bin.”  When the lymph doesn’t work properly, excess fluids (which includes dead cells, nitrogenous wastes, fat, viruses and heavy metals), start to collects or “pool” around the cells.  This is known as a “wet state” and is a good environment for degeneration and/or disease to thrive in.  Unlike the heart, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump (although it has valves).  Muscular contraction through exercise and movement, combined with gravitational pressure and deep breathing, are needed to help the lymph work at optimum level.

Rebounding came into the fitness arena years ago and has resurfaced again.  Mini-trampolines (and even Pilates-balls) are used in homes and gyms alike.  There are even mini-trampolines with a sidebar; for those who struggle with balance, as well as trampolines with a net around for young children.  When you bounce on a mini-trampoline (or a big one), it is always important to remember to keep your knees slightly bent.  When you are bouncing, without even lifting your feet off the trampoline, enough momentum is used to get your heartrate up.  Unlike jogging, which is very hard on the knees and ankles, the bouncing takes any pressure, strain and impact off the joints, thus preventing injury.

For many years, health practitioners all over the world were endorsing rebounding as a means of getting healthy and staying fit, whilst protecting your ankles, knees, hips and backs.  NASA was one of the first to use it for the astronauts – when they are in space, there is no gravity.  When they come back to earth, gravity sets in.  To counter the side-effects (if I can call it that), the astronauts bounced on trampolines.  This pull and push between gravity and no gravity, is what helped the astronauts to adapt being back on land. This sparked the idea of developing rebounding as a form of rehabilitation and/or exercise-routine, for all ages.  Pat Mueller, from the University of Minnesota, said “rebounding is the exercise of the future.  I’ve seen a lot of sports fads come and go, but this thing (rebounder) is phenomenal.”

When Rebounding took off, there were instructors, books, DVDs, and the like, that advertised it as an aerobic exercise-form.  However, it should not just be seen as another exercise-tool; rather as a “health- “device.  When you are bouncing, every single cell is being exercised – every muscle, organ, bone, and so on.   Rebounding / bouncing is often called “cellular aerobics,” because it regenerates your whole body at a cellular level and is a phenomenal way to detox. 

Do you remember when you bounced on your bed?  Yes, your parents didn’t like that, but you did it any way!  Why?  Because, instinctively, you knew that it made you feel happy.  Without even realizing it, the bouncing helped to cleanse your whole system on a cellular level and every one of your 60 trillion cells, got a massage!  There is a saying that a healthy baby is a “bouncing baby” and when you are happy you “jump for joy.” Bouncing has made a comeback and it is great news. Next week I will write more about the benefits of bouncing (rebounding).  In the meantime, if you have a trampoline or Pilates-ball at home, try it out.  You will soon notice the difference bouncing makes; even if you start off with just 10 minutes a day!