Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Boosting your immune system this winter naturally!



We are currently in the heart of winter. Daily we are experiencing frosty morning, dark nights and sniffles galore. It’s the time of year when people start to feel a bit down in the dumps, have lower energy and are much more prone to getting sick. I have detailed below my top 10 tips for kicking your immune systems butt this winter so you can avoid that annoying cold or flu. These tips will equally help keep you feeling more positive during these chilly months until the warm sun rays of spring appear.

1.     Keep hydrated! This is a big one. Often during winter we forget to drink enough water due to the cold weather. However, being inside in the heating can be very drying. Hydration is so important for pretty much every body function. It will make you feel more energetic and improve your immune function. Aim for at least 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
2.     Eat a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain so many essential vitamins and minerals to keep your body functioning properly. Vitamin C found in citrus fruit and berries is particularly important during these winter months. A balanced diet of 3 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit daily will ensure you are obtaining adequate nutrition to stimulate your immune system so you can fight off any nasty viruses you come into contact with. Remember variety is key so aim to have a plate that looks like a rainbow with as many different coloured fruit and vegetables as possible.
3.     Sleep- In order to have a properly functioning immune system we need to have adequate rest. During sleep our bodies have the opportunity to rest and restore themselves. Different people require different amounts of sleep so I advise you to listen to your body. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and if you are having trouble falling asleep or waking during the night ask your health practitioner how they can help. Poor sleep is one reason people feel fatigued, sad or constantly have a low immune system.
4.     Get outside and absorb some sunlight or get on a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is one of the most important Vitamins for both the immune system and mood. It can be difficult to get enough Vitamin D during winter. Aim for 20 minutes direct sunlight mid morning or mid afternoon for best absorption. Increasing egg yolks, butter or ghee and fish can also help boost your vitamin D intake. If your blood test shows you are low in Vitamin D (as so many of us are) make sure to take a supplement throughout winter.
5.     Exercise! Exercise has been shown to be one of the best ways to boost your immune system as well as to boost mood. It can be hard getting motivated in these winter months but once you get moving you will certainly feel better. You can even exercise at home if it’s too cold and dark to go out. Check out some HIIT training videos on YouTube, pick up a skipping rope or do some jumping jacks. Anything that gets your heart pumping is great. Doing a class at the gym with friends is also a great way to increase your social interaction, which is so important for boosting mood. Aim for at least 20 minutes high intensity exercise three times a week.
6.     Use immune boosting herbs and spices such as onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Herbs and spices used in cooking are an excellent way to add immune boosting properties to your food. Check out my immune boosting quinoa recipe as an example: http://dionne-healthnaturally.blogspot.com.au/2017/06/immune-boosting-turmeric-quinoa.html
7.     Ensure adequate protein intake. Protein is so important as it is what your immune system is actually made up of. It also contains zinc, an important mineral for the immune system. Your neurotransmitters for positive mood are also made up of protein. To be fair amino acids from protein are the building blocks of our body so it is needed for all functions. Protein should be included in all meals and can be in the form of meat, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes and dairy.
8.     Drink herbal teas. This will first of all help with hydration, will keep you warm and you can choose certain teas that have immune boosting properties. Try green tea for its antioxidants, lemongrass and ginger tea or cinnamon tea for its warming and immune enhancing ability.
9.     Start your day with a glass of warm water and the juice of ½ a lemon (you can add a dash of honey too). This is a great way to add some vitamin C into your diet. It will also help with digestion so you can better absorb all your nutrients. Did you know that the majority of your immune system is found in your gut? Therefore, keeping your digestive system healthy will help you have a better functioning immune system.
10.  Practice relaxation daily. Stress is one of the biggest contributors to lowered immune function. We have all been there, after a stressful even when we can finally relax we get sick. Make sure you are listening to your body and treating it with love. Some of my favourite forms of relaxation include meditation, deep breathing, yoga, walking, a warm bath or using essential oils. Just 5 minutes a day can make all the difference :)

Immune Boosting Turmeric Quinoa

This recipe is great as it tastes delicious, is beautiful and yellow in colour and is amazing during winter to boost the immune system. Adding the black pepper and coconut oil will help with the absorption of the turmeric and all its amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredients: 
1 brown onion
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 large carrots
1 cup quinoa
1 ¾ cup vegetable or chicken stock (or water)
Salt and pepper to taste

Turmeric Quinoa

Method:

Finely slice or grate onion, garlic, ginger and carrots. Fry in a saucepan with the coconut oil until soft. Add the quinoa, turmeric and stock/water. Allow liquid to come to boil and then reduce heat to simmer fro about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy as an accompaniment to meat/fish/chicken/tofu and vegetables.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The benefits of deep breathing for reducing stress, anxiety and so much more!


I often talk about the importance of deep breathing. How slowing down your breath and focusing on your breathing can have such a phenomenal affect on our overall health and well-being.

You may be thinking, we all breath all day, everyday so what exactly is the difference between regular breathing and deep breathing?

Most of us are shallow breathers. What does this mean? It means that when we breath we are actually only engaging 1/3 of our lungs. We breathing into the top/ chest section of our lungs rather than all the way down into our abdomen.
Now why is this bad? Well first of all our lungs are one of our organs of elimination and each time we breathe out we expel stale air and toxins. If we don’t breath all the way to the bottom of our lungs then there is stale air stagnating there that is never being expelled.
Also we are not flooding our body with as much oxygen as possible. The more oxygen we inhale, the more it can cleanse our blood and flood to our organs. This in turn helps all our organs function better, helps us with concentration and focus and is so beneficial for relaxation too.


Some of the benefits of deep breathing?
·       It makes you calmer and more relaxed.
·       Helps the body detoxify.
·       Can help relieve pain.
·       Boosts mood
·       Improves posture.
·       Stimulated the lymphatic system.
·       Increases cardiovascular system.
·       Gives you energy.
·       Improves digestion.
·       Strengthens major organs.
·       Helps regulate weight.
·       According to yogic philosophy it helps to extend your life, as it is believed that we are born with a certain number of breaths and once we have completed these breaths our time is up. So by slowing down your breathing you can extend your life.
If you want to improve any of the areas of your health listened above then I want you to try something. For the next week spend 4 minutes a day practicing deep breathing. Two minutes upon waking and 2 before going to sleep. No matter how busy your life is you have time for 2 minutes upon waking and 2 before you go to sleep. No excuses!

You can click on the link to watch my demonstration of how to take a proper deep breath: http://dionne-healthnaturally.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/deep-breathing-vlog.html

At the end of the week comment on how the deep breathing made you feel? Did you sleep any differently? Was your energy improved? Did you feel less anxious? Any other changes noticed?

I would love to hear how you found the experience. Continuing this ritual for 30 days will help you ingrain this type of breath into your daily life. Make it a daily habit :)

Monday, 15 May 2017

Guilt and gluten free banana bread


Healthy Banana Bread

Ingredients:
 
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon stevia
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup coconut flour

Pre heat oven to 180 degrees and grease a loaf pan.

In a blender/thermomix or electric mixer mash up bananas. Add cinnamon, bicarb of soda and stevia. Add in coconut oil and eggs and mix until well combines.
Add coconut flour, almond meal and baking powder until folded in and batter is smooth.

Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Spread with honey or maple syrup for extra sweetness, top with almond butter or regular butter or enjoy as is.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Crunchy nutty chocolate snacks bites

What I love about this recipe is that it full of so much goodness all packed into a delicious snack bite. There are many vitamins and minerals from the nuts and seeds as well as being a high protein snack. It is crunchy, healthy and you still feel like you are eating chocolate.

Chocolate and nut snack

Ingredients:

1 cup mixed nuts and seeds
½ cup buckinis
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup coconut oil
½ cup cacao powder
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons stevia

In a saucepan melt the coconut oil. Add in cacao, tahini, cinnamon and stevia and mix until all blended through.  Combine with the remaining ingredients and mix until all nuts and seeds are evenly covered with liquid chocolate mixture.

Pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate overnight and cut into chunks.

Even the men will love this one!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Wanting to conceive in the near future? A detox may be in order!

Preconception care is extremely important when it comes to the health and development of the foetus. It is often an area that is overlooked and many people are unaware of how important it is to prepare the body before even beginning to attempt to fall pregnant.


By preparing the body for pregnancy we are giving the baby the best chance possible for not just health in utero but we are giving them the opportunity to be as healthy as possible for the rest of their lives. You are also giving yourself the best opportunity to fall pregnant, have a safe and healthy pregnancy and birthing process.


Detoxification is one thing that is particularly important when it comes to preconception care. Living in this modern world we are bombarded with chemicals and toxins on a daily basis. They are literally impossible to avoid from EMR from phones, computers and all things technological, to petrol’s and fumes in our environment, to chemicals and pesticides in our food, chemicals in our skin care, make up, cleaning agents and even in our plastic containers, water bottles are receipts.

 Now you may wonder what happens to all these chemicals that we inhale, consume and lather onto our skin? Our bodies naturally excrete some but our eliminatory system is not able to keep up with the burden and the majority are stored in our cells. So what does this mean for our babies? Did you know that our babies are born already polluted with a much too high toxic load for their tiny bodies? An American study found that a total of 232 toxic chemicals in umbilical cord blood; another found 287 different industrial chemicals and pollutants—180 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and 217 of which are toxic to the brain and nervous system. There has been a huge increase in many health conditions such as asthma, eczema, autoimmune disease and autism in children and all these have been linked to high toxin exposure.


Not only are these toxins unhealthy for the developing bub but high levels of toxins and heavy metals are one reason many people are having difficulty falling pregnant in the first place.

In my daily life I encourage a detoxifying lifestyle but I also encourage everyone to do a detoxifying program at least once a year to help flush out those unavoidable chemicals present in all of us. These are particularly important for men and women thinking about trying to conceive in the near future.


However, I must stress that if you are currently trying to conceive or thinking about starting in the next couple of months a detoxification program is not appropriate. This is because during detoxification, many toxins are released from the cells and are flowing freely through out the body. This means that they will flow right into the foetus giving them a much larger toxic burden and being counter productive. This is why I encourage people to begin their preconception care are least 6 months prior to actually attempting to conceive. By this time they should have a clean slate.
What can and should be done by those trying to conceive is to live what I call a ‘detoxifying’ or ‘clean’ lifestyle. To be honest this is actually what I encourage for all people all (well at least the majority) of the time.


Living a detoxifying or clean lifestyle:


1. Eat organic where possible. Certain foods are more important than others when it comes to organic. The toxic load from chemicals in our food only takes a few days to leave the body.
2. Use all natural skin care. This includes ANYTHING you are putting on your skin from deodorant, to moisturisers to make up.
3. Drink filtered water.
4. Swap to natural household cleaners.
5. Store food products in glass not plastic containers.
6. Eliminate processed, high sugar, high trans fat and highly refined food from the diet.
7. Be active daily.
8. Get outside and get some fresh air and vitamin D for 20 minutes a day.
9. Incorporate massage or skin brushing into your routine.
10. Be sure to be detoxifying your mind too. Negative thought patterns, stress and emotional issues all contribute to inflammation and need to be worked though constantly.


If you are 6 months away from tying to conceive then I encourage incorporating some more intense detoxifying strategies. These include:


1. Consume foods that aid in detoxification such as cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, bitter vegetables such as rocket and radicchio as well as increasing your fibre intake (fresh fruit and vegetables, linseeds and chia seeds).
2. Use herbal medicine to support your body’s natural detoxification pathways. The main herb used to liver support is St Mary’s thistle. There are many other wonderful liver herbs including dandelion, globe artichoke, turmeric and Schisandra.
3. If you have high heavy metals then doing a chelation program with your practitioner.


These are the major detoxification principles I employ and encourage anyone thinking about having children in the near future to begin now. Our children deserve the best opportunity at life possible and it is your responsibility to give them that chance.

If you have any health conditions please discuss this with your health care practitioner prior to commencing.


Wishing you and your family all the best for this exciting journey xx

Monday, 20 March 2017

What's the point?


Sometimes I sit and wonder what is the point of all this?

We wake up each morning and head out to work mostly looking forward to the day ending or the weekend so we can relax.

We do this to make money. Money is essential ­to survive, yes. However, we also have the belief that with money we will find happiness, a feeling of success, freedom and security. To some extent this is true. Money can make certain aspects of life easier but does it have the value we place on it?

We complain that life is so hard, that the world can be a terrible place, that we would much prefer to still be in bed rather than doing whatever it is that takes most of our time.

We look at others. Judge others and compare ourselves to others. We do this mostly in a critical way, sometime more in an envious way. This is despite having no idea what is going on in their world.

We have decided what is most important in our society and once again this comes back to money, power and this to us means success.

But if we really are on the right path, if we really are progressing as a society, moving forward and achieving greatness than why don’t we feel AMAZING.

Why do we feel stressed, anxious, unsettles. Why are we all getting so sick? Why are we making money but not feeling happy, or simply just not making enough money at all. Why is life so hard and why do we crave time away from the place we spend most of our waking hours, being our work?

I’ve been pondering many things of late. Our priorities as a society, the fact that despite advancements in many fields we as a human race only appear to be becoming more disconnected from one another, more unhappy, more tired and more sick.

Everything in my logic explains that we are moving forward. There are new medical advancements all the time, new scientific discoveries, more technological creations to make our lives easier, more ways of communication (even from the comfort of our own homes), more convenient and cheap food, easy accessibility to clean water, rules and regulations to make the workplace safe and fair. With the Internet the world and all the knowledge we could ever desire is literally at our fingertips.

But as a society are we really happy? I mean truly happy, filled with joy? Are we actually healthy? We may be living to an older age but who doesn’t have something wrong with them? How rare is it to find someone over the age of 50 not taking any form of medication?

So what is missing?

I believe it comes down to one fundamental thing. That thing is LOVE. SELF LOVE. We are totally missing this in our society. It is so not a priority. Even worse than that it even has a negative connotation.

“Look how much that guy loves himself.” Does that sound like a compliment? No.

What we fail to realise is that true self-love is not narcissistic but pure, generous and honest. Narcissistic people don’t love themselves or they wouldn’t need to show off and would treat others with the same love and respect they give themselves.

Take a moment and really look into yourself. Do you honestly, openly and without judgement love yourself?

If you completely and genuinely do then why would you allow yourself to suffer so much and so often. Why would you fill your body with what we know to be toxic or unhealthy? Why would you spend your entire life doing tasks you don’t enjoy? Why wouldn’t you prioritise time to do things that bring you joy and inner peace?

I mean really what the point of this life if you are not truly living it. Life is too short to spend each day miserable, or even just neutral. Life should be fun, full of joy, personal growth and most of all love.

You only have one life and you are the only one in control of it. This year, 2017 is one of new opportunities and if you are reading this and it resonates with you then I believe this is the wake up call you need. Don’t spend another minute living the life that society dictates instead of the one you know you have the potential to live. Most of all don’t forget the infinite power of love. Love yourself and love others unconditionally.