Archive | March, 2011

Spring equinox is time to spring clean your diet

27 Mar

Best food to eat on a spring equinox is seeds and sprouts - see new beginnings. Thanks to national geographic for this picture.

Not only have the clocks moved forward but today is the Spring Equinox and what a stunning day for a spring clean of the internal kind. My equinox began with a green breakfast smoothie, a handful of seeds followed by an all-day yoga detox workshop at Triyoga; a surprise gift from my lovely friend Kari.  Despite my focus on this blog, raw food is of course only one vital item on a lengthy list of ideal everyday actions for living a full nutritious life. (All of which I am equally hypocritical about.)  Yoga is also one of the top five.

Today’s marathon yoga session was led by our lovely teacher Jeff Phenix, and encompassed a full spectrum of asana  (twists, heart opening back bends and core work), bandhas (energetic locks), kriya (cleansing practices), mudra (sacred gestures or attitudes), pranayama (expansion of life force), chakra work (subtle energy centres), yoga nidra (deep guided relaxation) and meditation.  Needless to say I am cleansed, almost comatose relaxed and knackered.

Throughout history the spring (or vernal) equinox is known as a very special symbolic and important time.  As  Jeff said; ‘now is the time to break through the hard shell of our winter coats and break free.’

Other magic, pagan and borderline occult websites go into a bit more detail such as this from Lightworkers.org: The spring equinox marks a time of year when day and night are of equal length, helping us achieve greater balance.

Add to this mix a rare alignment of the Sun and Uranus at the equinox point of zero degrees Aries. This alignment holds the potential to open energetic portals for inspiration, creativity, new insights and visions. It marks a time to listen to deep streams within and work with intentions powerfully aligned with our spiritual purpose for the highest good of all.

As we work with our highest intentions, we are able to align with others on the inner planes to anchor a new time in human consciousness. This weekend’s cosmic alignments will greatly facilitate these efforts.

We Stand at the Threshold of an Unimagineable Future

I love that last sentence. It’s so inspiring but National Geographic sort of dampens the magic with a more scientific view.  The length of day and night may not be equal on the vernal equinox, but that doesn’t make the first day of spring any less special.

The fall and spring equinoxes, for starters, are the only two times during the year when the sun rises due east and sets due west, according to Alan MacRobert, a senior editor with Sky & Telescope magazine.

Whatever and whoever you believe, if you look out the window at those daffs and blossoms, Spring is definitely here and you (and I) may as well make the most of it with a healthy body and mind.   To help you on your way – here’s Jeff’s list of essential daily detox dos and do nots:

  1. Yoga
  2. Meditation
  3. Eat nutritious food (Avoid processed food, dairy, sugar, coffee, alcohol) – I would obviously suggest raw…
  4. Drink lots of water
  5. Start the day with lemon and warm water to stimulate the liver
  6. Drink liquids at room temperature
  7. Dry brush to stimulate the skin (your biggest organ)
  8. Do a short juice fast
  9. Drink wheatgrass (if you can take it)
  10. Eat a big breakfast, medium sized lunch and light dinner – don’t eat late at night
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Watercress cures cancer, baldness and dull salads

20 Mar

One of the super miraculous ingredients of watercress is...water

I’m in love with watercress at the moment and not just because my iphone app seasons says it is in season locally.  Watercress tastes delicious and peppery, has many medicinal properties (from cancer to baldness cures), speeds up metabolisms, is a diuretic, and helps pick up your energy if you’re feeling tired. Gram for gram, watercress contains more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas. But I’m not the only one who’s fallen for this super superfood, according to watercress.co.uk, annual sales have increased by £18 million a year over the past four years to more than £55 million in 2010.

As you can see from the table, it is rich in vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin C, and is a source of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin E. It also contains  vitamin K, thiamin, vitamin B6, potassium and iodine and is  low in sodium. It is 93% water and therefore low in calories, contains a tiny bit of carbohydrate and fat but also has protein. One cereal bowl contains roughly one of your one a day.

Historically – according to watercress.co.uk, in 400 BC on the Island of Kos, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have located his first hospital beside a stream so that he could grow a plentiful supply of watercress to help treat his patients, the Greek general Xenophon made his solders eat it to increase their vigour before going into battle and Roman emperors said it enabled them to make “bold decisions.’

However the really blinding thing that qualifies watercress for super super status is the link to cancer cure. Watercress.co.uk outlines a recent groundbreaking study linking watercress to a potential cure for cancer.  Here’s an extract:  water cress contains the compound, phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC), which is able to interfere with the function of a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF), which plays a critical role in cancer development. As tumours develop they rapidly outgrow their existing blood supply and further development isn’t possible until they are able to obtain enough oxygen and nutrients to maintain the growth of cancer cells. To get past this roadblock, the cancer cells send out signals which cause the surrounding normal tissues to grow new blood vessels into the tumour which then supply oxygen and nutrients. HIF is at the heart of this process of inducing new blood vessel growth. However, PEITC, of which watercress is the richest natural source, was shown in laboratory tests to have the ability to block the function of HIF.

Watercress is a healthy leafy green raw vitamin essential

The best thing is that it is really cheap to buy and and really easy to use.  Although – I don’t recommend adding to your green smoothies unless of course you like a peppery kick with your apple flavoured breakfast.

Oh – and PS – also according to watercress.co.uk, it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. In Crete, islanders swear by its powers and ancient recipes are handed down from one generation to the next. In the 1970s, an Arab prince was reputed to have had special consignments flown out from the UK, presumably to help him satisfy his harem! And in Hampshire its special powers are part of folklore.

Hamburgers and fried chicken are in my culture. Fruit and vegetables are out.

6 Mar

'It's not my fault I like fried chicken. It's my culture...'

1. Taste. 2. Price. 3. Convenience…1,204,895. Health.

According to the recent newsletter from Food and Drink Europe, a  survey of 200 Spanish consumers, published in Journal of Sensory Studies, showed that health and weight loss barely make our list of priorities when choosing what food to buy.  Pretty obvious results but as we dig deeper in the newsletter we discover that what influences our choice of taste is predominantly culture. And one of the problems us fat and sugar addicted people have is that we don’t want to give up our culture to eat healthily.  Well – we gave up eating healthily to eat badly didn’t we?  In fact – if we go way, way, way back – one could argue that our one true culture of food consumption is raw fruits and vegetables.

Carrillo and colleagues explained that fats and sugars provide major contributions to the sensory and palatable characteristics of foods, but the high availability of energy-dense foods in developed countries – particularly in the U.S and countries within the European Union – promotes preferences that are inconsistent with dietary guidelines and have a direct relationship to wider obesity problems.

“Increased consumption of foods with high proportions of these components is mainly due to taste preference, aroma and mouth-feel characteristics,” they added.

However non-sensory aspects of food choice, such as culture, can also have a major impact on food preference.

For example, previous research (Ethnicity & Health, Vol 9(4):349-67) suggested that certain populations of African-Americans in the US believe that ‘eating healthily’ would mean giving up part of their cultural heritage, and trying to conform to the dominant culture.’

This study initially frustrated me but on second thought it is inspiring. The solution to shifting our behaviours is simple – we just have to make healthy food sensorally attractive and culturally familiar.