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This blog will give you the latest hints and tips to all things health and nutrition related.

By George Rundle, Oct 14 2015 10:29AM


We are well and truly in Autumn now so if you haven't already, it's time to start thinking about supporting your immune system. Include these 5 natural but oh so powerful foods in your daily diet and your body will thank you!


1) Fresh Garlic: Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiviral and is also a great antiseptic. Crush or chop into soups, stews, curries, stir fries, and if you are feeling brave, blend it raw into dips such as houmous. Easy to include everyday.


2) Ginger: Ginger has wonderful immune boosting properties. It works well as an anti-inflammatory and is also antibacterial and antiviral. As with garlic, use in soups, stews, stir fries but ginger tea is also very powerful, especially for soothing the stomach. Add it to your breakfast smoothie for a real flavour kick!


3) Turmeric: A vibrant coloured spice containing the active ingredient curcurmin which boasts fantastic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Use in curries, soups, stews, smoothies and herbal teas.


4) Thyme: Provides excellent support for the respiratory system as well as having antifungal, antiseptic properties, a good all round antioxidant. If you feel a cold coming on, try a thyme, rosemary and sage tea.


5) Cinnamon: Another powerful anti-inflammatory with antimicrobial qualities. It also has the added benefit of regulating blood sugar levels so add to your breakfast smoothie or homemade granola, stir into porridge or use in energy bars for a yummy tang.


Other foods on your immune support shopping list include: onions, leeks, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries (or pick your own), coconut oil, cloves, oregano, black pepper, fermented foods e.g. sauerkraut, miso, kimchi.


You might also want to consider a good quality vitamin D3 supplement to keep you going through the dark months of autumn and winter when limited sunlight means we don't have the capacity to make our own. It's crucial for immune support and also bone health - a win, win!


Happy shopping and cooking!



By George Rundle, Sep 15 2015 03:29PM

I am sure that by now, many of you have noticed the days becoming cooler, mornings a bit fresher and of course, the light fading a little earlier in the evening, all of which signals that Autumn is well on its way. The long summer days are certainly behind us and it is now time to prepare ourselves for the more reflective, restorative months of autumn and winter.


The Autumn Equinox this year takes place on Wednesday 23rd September 2015 at 08.22am. At this moment, the sun will cross the equator from north to south and it is on this day that we will have equal hours of daylight and night-time. From this point onwards, days seem to shorten as the hours of darkness increase. This obvious change in available light coincides with an energetic shift that affects us right down to cellular level. At the point of the equinox, the energy 'flips' so that instead of moving up the front of our body and down our back, the energy reverses and travels up our back and down the front. Instead of the light, open and expansive feel of the spring and summer months, the autumn and winter energy encourages us to go within and be more reflective. The darker and colder days make us want to hibernate, be wrapped up warm, cocooned, be more restful and take on a more restorative approach to living.


The powerful energetic shift that occurs on and around the equinox also takes place in our cells. This gives us the opportunity to experience cleansing on a very deep level. It allows us to match the changing rhythyms of the universe with our bodies. If we can transition this period, we will feel balanced and in harmony with everything and everyone around us. We will be connected to our true sense of self.


For some, the equinox and few weeks either side can be a challenging time as the energetic affect on our cells creates internal movement with a resulting release of toxicity. This can cause headaches, colds, general feelings of weariness, mood changes and any physical, mental or emotional feelings of discomfort. So what can we do to support the body during this time:


1) Be kind to yourself: rest when you need. With the darker days, our bodies naturally want to sleep more as we tend to feel less energised. Aim to match your energy with that of the Autumn/Winter period.


2) Aim to eat your last meal of the day earlier, ideally when it is light. This isn't always easy in the depths of winter but eating during the darker hours is more challenging for the digestive system. Eating your main meal of the day at lunchtime and a smaller meal later on in the day would also present less challenge to the system.


3) As the days get colder, choose foods that nourish, soothe and warm such as homemade soups, broths and hearty stews.


4) Eat seasonal foods such as apples, pears, plums, figs, raspberries, blackberries, kale, chard, beetroot, watercress, pumpkins, squashes, swede, celeriac, venison, pheasant, partridge, seabass, mackerel etc


5) As your cells start to cleanse, it is important to drink plenty of water, ideally filtered, to help eliminate any toxicity released. Aim for 1.5 - 2 litres a day.


6) Introduce naturopathic techniques to assist with the cleansing. Epsom salts baths are a lovely way to relax as well as assist the cellular cleanse. Epsom salts are essentially magnesium sulphate and magnesium is a relaxant. Putting upto a kilo (start slowly e.g. 1/4 of a kilo and build up) allows the magnesium to enter your body via the skin. Watch yourself drift off as the magnesium does its work. This is a great technique for relieving any aches and pains and after any heavy exercise.


7) Aim to eat omega 3 rich foods regularly e.g. oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or a well sourced antartic krill supplement, walnuts, chia seeds or chia seed oil, flax seeds or flax seed oil. Please note that chia and flax seed oil should only be used as a dressing or as an addition to a smoothie as heating these oils will damage the fats. The omega 3 oils have a great potential for holding light and so this is important for us as our daylight hours shorten. Of course we need to be able to absorb, hold and utilise the light in our bodies and this can be more challenging in the winter months. This can be characterised by those people who are affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD).


For other ways of supporting the body through a period of detoxification, please look at some of the suggestions on my previous blog 'The Spring Equinox' as they are just as relevant to apply during this time.


Make sure you apply any changes gradually so that your body can move with the pace of cellular cleansing. This is important to avoid a fast release of cellular toxins which may not be eliminated from the body at the same rate. Take your time and continue to observe and notice how your body feels along the way. It is a good idea to keep a little journal or notepad to jot down your thoughts.


If you would like to explore this area further or you have any specific health issues you would llike to address, then please do contact me for a natural nutrition consultation and a bespoke nutritional and lifestyle programme.


Happy Autumn Equinox everyone!!


Easy breakfast idea: Yoghurt with autumn compote


First make a compote from seasonal berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, apples, pears.

Place your fruit of choice in a pan with a touch of water and maybe some raw, local honey to sweeten or spices such as cinnamon, mixed spice, cloves, ginger.

Simmer lightly for around 10 - 20 minutes, depending on which fruit you choose, until the fruit has softened.


Place some coconut yoghurt ( I like Coyo) in a sundae dish with some of the compote. Finish by sprinkling with some crushed nuts such as pistachios, pecans, walnuts, almonds or brazils and enjoy!



By George Rundle, Mar 1 2015 06:41PM

Spring is definitely on its way. The days are starting to get lighter, the bulbs planted last Autumn are beginning to surface and the dawn chorus is sounding more chirpy and cheerful. The challenging cold, dark days of winter are certainly behind us as the promise of longer and hopefully warmer days are on the horizon.


The Spring Equinox, which this year is on Friday 20th March at 22.45pm, signals the start of gradually increasing hours of daylight. The actual moment of the equinox provides us with equal hours of light and dark, or day and night, and occurs when the sun is at right angles to the equator. This also coincides with a massive shift in energy which affects us all. During the winter period, the energy travels up our back and down our front but at the equinox, this energy 'flips' and reverses so that the energy now travels up our front and down our backs. The heavy, contracted feeling connected with the winter energy is now replaced with a much lighter, more expansive energy and this increases as we progress further into the height of Summer.


This huge energetic shift also causes detoxification to take place in our bodies at a cellular level and so it is an excellent time to take advantage of this by lightening the load on our bodies physically, mentally and emotionally. The influence of the equinox is heightened at the moment it takes place but it can also affect us in the few weeks leading up to and after its occurence. A gentle cleanse during this time can be very powerful in that it allows us to match the rhythms of our body with the natural energy rhythms of the season and ultimately the universe. This creates movement instead of stagnancy in the body and in doing so, optimises health and wellbeing.


Below are some ways in which you can start to gently cleanse and detoxify your cells whilst supporting your body through the Spring Equinox period.


1) A well hydrated body is a key part of wellness so drinking water, ideally filtered, throughout the day will help any toxic release from the cells to keep moving its way out of the body as well as supporting hydration. Take a glass of water to bed with you so that the first thing you put into your body on waking is water. Your body will thank you for it!


2) A cup of warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice in the morning before breakfast helps to alkalise the cells and stimulate the liver: the liver being the main organ of detoxification.


3) Choose lighter, less challenging foods for the system so that the body doesn't have to work so hard to detoxify. It might be a good time to reduce animal foods which are heavier on our systems and also generally acid forming in the body in favour of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses and legumes. Aim for seasonal foods.


4) Try consuming juices made mostly from vegetables with a piece of fruit if you need to sweeten. Carrot, apple and fresh root ginger with a squeeze of lemon juice is a classic and a great invigorator. A green juice of kale, broccolli, celery, cucumber, pear, ginger and lime juice would be a great cleanser and alkaliser. Experiment with different veggies and a few fruits and notice how your body responds to these nutrient laden cocktails.


5) It might be a good time to reduce the amount of wheat and gluten based grains as well as dairy. These can be challenging for the digestive system so try replacing with short grain brown rice (a fantastic hydrator and cleanser), millet grains, buckwheat and quinoa, a seed which provides all the essential amino acids and is therefore a great alternative protein food. Maybe try goats or sheeps dairy products if you want to include some dairy. Try almond or coconut milk instead of cow's milk.


6) Buy yourself a soft bristle body brush and dry brush your whole body first thing in the morning before you shower. Body brushing stimulates the lymphatic system which sits just below the surface of the skin and helps to carry waste and toxins from the cells to the liver via the blood. Brush upwards from the feet, up over the legs and torso and up the arms towards the heart. Brush down towards the heart from the neck and shoulders.


7) Aim to avoid alcohol and all processed, sugary and 'white' foods which have little if any nutritional value and will be detrimental during any detoxification period.


8) Try replacing your caffeine containing coffee or tea with a caffeine free herbal or rooibush (redbush) tea. Caffeine can stimulate the adrenal glands to produce cortisol which can encourage the blood sugar to yoyo leading to tiredness and fatigue. They also produce adrenalin which stimulates the nervous system and prepares our body for the 'fight or flight response'. Constantly stimulated adrenals results in adrenal fatigue and exhaustion.


9) Breath work can be a very useful tool in calming the body, improving its oxygenation and therefore assisting with detoxification. Focused breathing combined with movement such as yoga or pilates helps to shift any stagnancy. Meditation, be it guided or just focusing on your breath with your eyes closed for a few minutes can also be of great benefit both physically and mentally.


10) And finally, go for long walks and get outside in the sunshine to feel rejuvenated and alive. Become aware of your surroundings and appreciate the beauty in nature everyday. It will lift your spirits!


Begin any detoxification programme gently, making gradual changes so that your body can move with the pace of cellular cleansing. This is important to avoid a fast release of cellular toxins which may not be eliminated from the body at the same rate. Take your time and continue to observe and notice how your body feels along the way. It is a good idea to keep a little journal or notepad to jot down your thoughts.


If you would like to explore this area further or you have any specific health issues you would llike to address, then please do contact me for a natural nutrition consultation and a bespoke nutritional and lifestyle programme.


Happy Spring Equinox everyone!!

By George Rundle, Feb 1 2015 08:07PM

BENEFITS OF PILATES

For those who are new to pilates or those who need a little reminder, here are some of the reasons why pilates should be a part of your life!


Structural

- improved alignment and posture

- greater joint mobility (particularly the spine)

- increased stability of pelvis and shoulders

- lengthened and toned muscles

- balance between muscular flexibility and strength

- improved balance and coordination

- increased core support

- increase in energy

- greater body awareness: both in terms of how it moves and the relationship of body parts to one

another


Health

- developing lung capacity and circulation

- improved digestion

- improvement in bone density and joint health

- alleviating aches and pains

- injury rehabilitation and prevention


Wellbeing

- release of stress and tension

- sense of freedom

- space and openness in the body

- a greater sense of physical, emotional and mental well-being

- deeper connection with yourself

- taking ownership of your pilates journey

- improved quality of life



By George Rundle, Jan 25 2015 06:50PM


Many people are considering the affect of grains and particularly gluten on their diet. This is causing some to reduce or remove grains and/or gluten from their diet. Some for health reasons, some purely because it makes them feel better and some because it is the latest diet that they want to try. In this last week of 'be kind to your body', I am going to explore the variety of grains, their role in the diet, their affect on our body with particular reference to gluten and whether a gluten/grain free diet is a fad or is there a real need to eliminate grains and gluten from the diet?


Grains have been eaten for centuries by many civilisations. Currently wheat is the most cultivated and consumed grain followed by rice and corn. For the majority of people they form a staple part of the diet and may feature in breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, the way grains were cultivated by our ancestors is very different to today where breeding modifications have been made to increase the yield, reliability and availability of crops. Use of fertilisers, pesticides and other chemicals all have an impact on the grain and the soil in which it's grown and then there's genetically modified crops. In addition, lack of crop rotation means the soil used for growing doesn't get a chance to be replenished with vitamins and minerals, one of the reasons our food lacks the nutrients we need.


So, what nutritional benefit can we receive from grains? Well they can provide a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E and minerals, especially magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron. They are also a good source of complex carbohydrate in the form of starch which helps to provide a slow release of sugar therefore sustaining and stabilising our energy levels instead of spiking our blood sugar which leads to the sugar high and quick sugar drop. They provide approximately 30% of energy, 25% protein and 50% of the available carbohydrate in the UK diet.


Grains are structured into 3 parts: The germ which is the centre of the grain and is a rich source of oils, protein, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron. The endosperm which is 70% starch and 12% protein forms 80 - 85% of the grain. The bran outer coating which provides predominantly fibre but also fat, starch, vitamins and minerals. All parts of the grain are required for full nutritional value.


Milling grains to produce refined white flour removes the fibrous coating and the central germ leaving the starch and protein but very little vitamins, minerals and fibre. In fact an article written by the American Dr Mercola states that:


'It’s generally understood that refining food destroys nutrients. With the most nutritious part of the grain removed, white flour essentially becomes a form of sugar. Consider what gets lost in the refining process:


Half of the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids

Virtually all of the vitamin E

Fifty percent of the calcium

Seventy percent of the phosphorus

Eighty percent of the iron

Ninety eight percent of the magnesium

Fifty to 80 percent of the B vitamins

And many more nutrients are destroyed -- simply too many to list.'


Some vitamins and minerals are replaced e.g. calcium, iron, B1 and B3, but not usually in the form that they occured in naturally and so the body may not recognise and therefore absorb and process them as easily as if they were in their natural form. Nutrient levels are generally lower in grains than they used to be as the soil is so depleted and thus there is less uptake of vitamins and minerals by the plant which means less available for us.


In addition to the nutrient loss, refined white flour also contains additives in the form of bleaching and oxidising agents which are potentially toxic to the body. Wheat flour is also an incomplete protein (doesn't provide all the essential amino acids) so is generally eaten with foods to help remedy this e.g. animal foods or beans. Rice is also an incomplete protein but eaten with legumes or beans gives us the full range of essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Grains are a low fat food but fat is added during the baking process. Grains left intact are rich in oils. The lack of fibre in refined grains can make them easier to digest. It also causes people to top up their fibre uptake with pure bran flakes, normally at breakfast. Fibre can be difficult for some to digest when eaten as part of the wholegrain but can be much more challenging eaten on its own. Another reason why grains should be eaten whole and once again the body recognises it much more in its original structure. Other breads such as brown bread, granary, wheatmeal, bran loaves are based on refined white flour with a variety of additions be it a colouring, a flavouring, a little bran or germ added back in. Wholemeal breads which say they are made from 100% whole-wheat should be the best you can buy in that it hopefully retains its full nutritional value but do check the labelling as you may find that this is not the case.


Other things to consider include the addition of yeast which can prove to be problematic for some people and the amount of salt and fat added to bread also reduces any nutritional value. Other products using refined white flour such as pastry, cakes and biscuits are high in fat and sugar and so their role in our diet should be limited indeed should they play a part at all! Pasta is made from durum high wheat protein and isn't processed in the same way as wheat.


Gluten is the protein in wheat and other grains. It provides wheat with its elastcity. Flour added to water creates that sticky like dough. Imagine that sticky dough travelling down your intestine lining. It struggles to move, especially if there is no fibre to help it along its way and ends up sticking to the gut walls. Any gluten that hasn't been digested coats the walls of the bowel disturbing the gut bacteria, the acid/alkaline balance and preventing absorption of nutrients. This can cause many symptoms including constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, wind, pain, bloating, inflammation but also tiredness, irritability, depression. It can also contribute to many other health issues including arthritis, psoarasis, eczema and candida, an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria which can ultimately puncture the gut wall allowing large undigested molecules of food to pass into the bloodstream stimulating an immune response. This creates a scenario often referred to as 'leaky gut syndrome' where the gut becomes a toxic factory allowing undesirable substances to enter the body and encouraging the spread of candida throughout the body.


Gluten is actually formed of two proteins, glutenin and gliadin and it's the gliadin that seems to cause the problem in gluten sensitive people causing either an allergy or an intolerance. Undigested or unrecognisable proteins absorbed through the gut lining cause the immune system to respond by producing antibodies to fight these foreign invaders causing either an allergic reaction (often an immediate response) or an intolerance (a response that can take several hours or days to appear). A healthy gut lining and a proliferation of friendly bacteria can help to control what does and doesn't pass into the bloodstream and therefore help to eliminate sensitivity issues.


Coeliac disease is a severe allergy to gluten but more and more people are struggling to process wheat and other glutenous grains due to their refined nature, the way in which grains are produced, the lack of vitality in the body including an already challenged digestive system and how we cook our grains, more on that later.


Before we move onto other types of grain, it is essential to point out that wheat is contained in many other products including ready meals, processed foods, sauces, sausages, soy sauce (tamari sauce is a good gluten free alternative), mustards etc. It is therefore worth checking labels on pre-prepared foods if you are trying to avoid it in your diet.


There are many other grains that contain gluten. Wheat contains the most gluten and therefore is the most challenging on the body's system. Spelt also contains gluten but it is the ancient grain of wheat, its ancestor if you like, and so hasn't been modified structurally meaning it can be more tolerable for some people. So in order of challenge to the system, Rye comes next followed by Oats, Barley, Rice and then Millet. In fact rice and millet are gluten free grains and are much more suitable for those challenged by gluten. Of course with any of the grains, one must bear in mind how it has been processed and if it is in its wholegrain form. For instance, white rice has been stripped of all its vitamins and minerals. Short grain brown rice absorbs more water when it's cooked and is therefore a good hydrator for the colon. It also has a scouring affect on the gut wall so helps to clean the lining of any residues. The Chinese regard short grain brown rice as 'the food of the colon' because it's hydrating as long as th eperson can digest it. Oats contain gluten because of how they are processed but gluten free oats are now readily available in supermarkets or health food shops. Remember that oat flakes have had the bran removed so again they have lost some of their nutritional value.


Whilst on the subject of gluten free products, a word of caution. Most supermarkets now have a 'free from' section which stock a range of wheat, gluten, dairy free etc products. If you are trying to avoid these foods in your diet it might be very tempting to stock up from this area but these products do tend to contain more sugars, salt, fats and additives in order to retain the consistency, texture and flavour of the original product. In the end, this may have a more detrimental affect on the body than the food you are trying to avoid. My advice would be to always aim for foods that are fresh, locally produced as much as possible, in their natural state and organic. Cooking from scratch, preferably with seasonal foods, also avoids eating the heavily processed products and ready made meals.


As well as causing digestive problems, grains can create a 'yoyoing' blood sugar in sensitive people resulting in the sugar high and sugar crash. They can also challenge the insulin response in the body leading to insulin resistance. This can occur when cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. The body produces insulin in response to a rise in blood sugar, but the cells in the body become resistant to insulin and are unable to use it as effectively, leading to hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. The pancreas increases its production of insulin so it becomes a vicious circle. In some cases this can lead to type 2 diabetes.


Grains are generally slightly acid forming in the body so it is always a good idea to combine them with lots of green leafy vegetables which generally have an alkalising effect. This helps to create a balanced meal. Including some protein animal or vegetarian based, will also help to reduce the blood sugar challenge.


So if we choose to include grains in our diet, how can we make it easier to digest and absorb them? Well one way is by soaking the grains prior to cooking them. It helps to soften and breakdown the hard to digest gluten protein. Soaking also helps to reduce or remove the phytic acid on the surface of grains which can block the absorption of minerals in the digestive tract therefore increasing the availability of nutrients. It also neutralises enzyme inhibitors which if ingested can prevent the numerous enzymes in our body from working and finally it may make the grain more alkaline after cooking. The cooking process itself also helps to reduce the phytic acid levels but soaking can improve the digestibility and nutrient content of the grain.


Some good alternatives to grains include 'Quinoa' pronounced 'Keenwa' and Buckwheat. Both are actually seeds not grains, free from gluten and are therefore less challenging on the system. Quinoa is very rich in protein and contains the full range of essential amino acids. It can be used as an alternative to cous cous and makes a lovely porridge for breakfast.


So yet again, there is a lot of information to 'absorb' and as always it comes down to you as an individual. What's right for one person might not be right for another but if you experience digestive issues of any kind, it might be worth eliminating wheat or gluten based grains and see how your body responds. Some people may need to avoid grains altogether or it may just be for a short while. Listen to your body and it will let you know.


Soaked Short Grain Brown Rice:

1 cup of short grain brown rice

Cover with filtered water

Some recommend adding 1tbsp of an acidic medium e.g. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help discourage unfriendly bacteria when soaking for a long period and to help reduce the levels of phytic acid on the surface.


Leave the rice for 7 hours or overnight. Get rid of soaking water and cook rice in fresh filtered water for 30 - 45 minutes. Use alongside homemade curries, stews, or breakfast pudding rice see below:


Brown rice breakfast pudding:

1/2 cup of soaked and cooked short grain brown rice.

Place in a saucepan over a low heat with either almond or coconut milk to cover, 1 tbsp of ground almonds to thicken, 1tsp cinnamon or mixed spice. Stir until warm and serve.

Choose to sprinkle with berries, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame seeds etc and add a little more milk if required. Yum!

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