Tweaklet #50 – Natural Painkillers

We all have different pain thresholds but one thing we have in common is that when pain strikes, we just want it to be gone.

I am no different when I have pain I want a quick fix. But the more I research healthy living, the more I realise the very real side effects of commercial pain killers. There are many different formulations of commercial pain killers but they all basically work on the nerve endings that send messages back to the brain to tell us we are injured. Pain killers interfere or block those messages and this changes the way your body responds to the inflammation.

As effective as many of these are in dealing with the symptoms, many people have a sensitivity to them, which may not be obviously apparent but can cause serious issues. Also, pain killers take anywhere from 24 hours to three weeks to clear your system and really do we want to be trying to eliminate a build-up of chemicals in our system?

As we once again turn to food for a solution let’s look at what nature has provided in the way of natural painkillers.

Hot and spicy foods are top of the list. Some would say that just eating them is painful but the properties of things like wasabi, Japanese horseradish and cayenne pepper can actually alleviate serious post-operative pain.

Wasabi works on blocking inflammation receptors and the capsaicin in Cayenne pepper works both internally on infections and externally on muscle soreness. You will see it as an active ingredient in many painkilling creams.

Many women know how effective Evening Primrose is in alleviating premenstrual pain and symptoms and in balancing hormones.

Arnica oil, if you haven’t heard of it, belongs in every medicine cabinet. It eases inflammatory pain, insect bites, bruises  and even arthritis pain.

Soaking in a bath of magnesium-rich Epsom salts is excellent for easing bone, joint and muscle pain and oils such as lavender and peppermint also provide relief for muscle pain and headaches. Apply them topically or pop some drops in an oil burner.

In another Tweaklet we’ll talk about pain-relieving hands-on techniques that you can seek out for further pain relief.

For now, let’s turn to food and see what we can find to ease any painful suffering before we pop a pill.

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Tweaklet #49 – Chilli

Do you like spicy food? Do you always reach for the chilli sauce or chopped chilli to go with your main meal? Or are you the opposite and shy away from anything spicy?

I love spicy food but I can’t handle spice that burns the back of my throat and makes me break out into a sweat. But according to new research, eating hot chillis could be the secret to a longer life!

Chillis, otherwise known as hot peppers, have been grown and used in food for thousands of years and like a lot of spices they have excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

They’re also good for weight loss as they speed up your metabolism, stop cravings and are natural appetite suppressants.

The capsaicin found in spicy foods actually lowers cholesterol levels by reducing cholesterol accumulation in the body. And chilli’s anti-inflammatory properties make it great for heart health generally.

So what’s your spice level? If you’re new to chilli ease in gradually or you’ll put yourself off and that would be a shame. Build up gradually and try some ground spices like paprika and cayenne and if you’re buying fresh peppers, do your research to find out just how hot each variety is. Remember some of the smallest in size can be the most fiery!

A little tip, from painful personal experience, is when you’re chopping up fresh chilli peppers remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and even then don’t go touching your eyes! Boy did I learn that one the hard way several times!

So, whilst we wait for further research on whether spicy food will help us live longer, let’s just get on and enjoy experimenting with adding some heat to our food. Time to spice up our lives Tweakleters!

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Tweaklet #48 – Coconut Oil

In the last few years, there has been a growing interest in coconut oil. It’s no longer found just in Asian supermarkets, it’s in every supermarket!

But there’s still a lot of confusion about coconut oil and whether it’s actually good for you. We are still often told that it raises cholesterol. So let’s explore.

Yes, coconut oil is largely composed of saturated fat but it behaves very differently in the body to other types. Recent studies show that coconut oil does not adversely affect LDL, or what we think of as bad cholesterol, whatsoever, and it’s the only saturated fat that significantly increases the good HDL cholesterol.

There are currently over 1500 studies proving that when used in moderation, coconut oil is very healthy food.

Here are some interesting things I’ve learned about coconut oil – it is a natural anti-microbial, which helps to kill bad viruses,  bacteria…, Fungi, yeast and parasites. This is great news for gut health because it helps to weed out unwanted organisms and allow healthy bacteria to flourish.

Plus the type of fat that coconut oil is means it is readily burned as energy and not stored, so it promotes weight loss by increasing the burning of calories.

I love using coconut oil. It adds a slight nutty rich flavour and it has a higher smoke point so it’s great to use in Asian stir-fries and just for medium heat pan-frying generally. It goes equally well in sweet dishes and you can make delicious bliss balls and other sweet treats. You can add coconut oil to smoothies, to oatmeal, to tea and coffee, to homemade mayonnaise and to scrambled egg.

In winter coconut oil goes rather solid and in summer is completely liquid. If you find it annoying to shave off chunks of it in winter, then here’s a tip from The Coconut Mama .com who suggests freezing portions in an ice tray and popping one out as you need it. Thanks, Coconut Mama!

And a big shout out to Dr Michael Murray at Doctor Murray.com, whose up to date knowledge and research on coconut oil is invaluable.

As always look for the best quality coconut oil you can find. It isn’t all about price and you will find good quality brands that don’t cost a fortune.

And that’s it fellow Tweakleters! Another tiny food tweak to get us thinking more about how we can use coconut oil.

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Tweaklet #46 – The Startup Diet

Today’s Tweaklet is a request from friends in the startup world. Anyone involved in setting up a new business will relate to the challenges a start-up places on all areas of your life, especially your diet.

Whether your new venture is already underway or just literally at Start-up stage, you are undoubtedly faced with a lot of demands on your time and energy. All your mental and creative focus is being channelled into the business. You’re time poor, constantly tired, probably staring into an empty fridge and grabbing fast food to keep you going.

In fact, most fast foods are so high in carbohydrates and sugar that they are actually going to deplete your energy and only add to your brain feeling foggy and your body feeling sluggish.

So here are some simple tweaks you can make. You may have very little time but at least once a week shop for things like healthy snacks………raw almonds, hummus with celery and carrot sticks, blueberries, apples, bananas, pots of good quality yoghurt or kefir.

For main meals, you can buy an already roasted chicken if you eat meat, and/or some already cooked vegetables or salads. If you’re going to buy pre-prepared meals look for fresh frozen meals rather than packet meals.

Eggs are a good standby. Hard boil a few and keep them in the fridge at work for a snack.

Stay away from colas and sodas and ice tea (both the diet and regular versions), and keep control of your caffeine intake. All of these drinks rob you of energy and brain function and contrary to popular belief, do not keep you going, they significantly disrupt your blood sugar and your digestion.

Opt for water – sparkling or still. Try some herbal tea – hot or cold.

If all of that is too hard, then invest in a good smoothie or liquid nutrition program. Beware though of “diet” programs and high protein shakes.

I have compared many of these and the only one I recommend is Arbonne’s 30 Days to Healthy Living which gives you quality liquid nutrition that you just shake up with water, as well as blood-sugar balancing drinks and detox teas. Arbonne is all-natural and highly certified and ideal for anyone who is time-poor needs loads of focused energy or who needs to re-set their system.

So, my start-up friends, there are some tiny food tweaks. I wish you every success in your business, just please look after yourselves along the way as I want to see you next time here on Tweaklets.

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Tweaklet #45 – Eggs

I love the humble egg. Such a perfect and complete energy-giving little package. And there’s a long list of health issues that they support – from protecting your skin and eyes from UV damage…. to improving liver and brain function.

Eggs are a wonderful source of inexpensive quality protein. They are high in omega-3s and fatty acids. All good things, Yet eggs are quite controversial!

For a long time, eggs were thought to raise cholesterol but clinical trials now indicate that they regulate cholesterol absorption and inflammation in the bloodstream.

It was suggested years ago that we should limit our consumption of eggs yet now studies show that eggs can overturn even very serious conditions like metabolic syndrome.

The most important part about eggs is making sure you buy free-range. It’s not just about using your buying power to vote against the disgusting and inhumane conditions of caged chickens – that’s super important – but nutritionally, free-range eggs are very different.

Free-range eggs contain one third less cholestero, one quarter less saturated fat, than eggs from caged chickens, They have two thirds more vitamin A, two times more omega-3, three more times vitamin E, and seven times more beta carotene!

And something else I’m in the process of researching is people’s sensitivity or allergies to eggs. I have it on good authority, but not yet verified, free-range eggs are more likely to be fertilised, as in a rooster strutting his stuff around his hens – and that fertilised eggs do not cause any sensitivity or allergy.

I’m still looking into this but meanwhile, it strengthens the case for buying the best kind of free-range farmers’ market eggs you can find.

And that’s today’s tiny food tweak from Tweaklets.

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Tweaklet #44 – Seasonal Eating – Part one

There’s a lot to be said about seasonal eating so this is just a brief introduction. It’s not so long ago, not more than between 50 to 100 years ago, that we used to eat only the foods that were in season.

Before the industrialization of agriculture our communities revolved around planting and harvesting and were sustained by the crops that were grown locally.

In summer we would have eaten lots of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as plenty of unprocessed whole grains. In Autumn we’d have been busy hunting or preparing any meat we had for winter as well as gathering up the remains of the harvested seeds and nuts and berries.

In winter we would live off our own stored body fat as well as winter vegetables and the items in our store cupboard, waiting for Spring which would bring a fresh round of new plants and planting activity.

Our bodies are designed to flourish in that kind of seasonal eating cycle.

Today, when everything we desire is available all year round, we fatten up all throughout the year. We never hibernate or burn off our excess fuel through a few lean months. And as a result we’re out of step, our digestive systems never rest and we’re also not getting all the nutrients we need.

There are many other impacts from not eating seasonally – the nutrients that are lost as food travels great distances, the lengthy cold storage that depletes nutrients further, and of course, there’s the issue of pesticides and chemicals and the impact on the environment from all the transportation.

We’ll touch on those issues later but for now, let’s do a simple Tweak – a bit of a rethink. Let’s Read labels and buy local.

Let’s support local growers and eat what is natural and seasonal for that time of year. Our bodies still respond to the rhythms of the seasons and will thank us for our efforts to eat seasonally.

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Tweaklet #43 – Blueberries

Which is your favourite berry?

All berries are a good low-sugar, low calorie option when it comes to a fruit snack. One perhaps gets rather overlooked and that’s the blueberry……..

This tiny dusky purple skinned beauty is, in fact, the most nutritious …..most anti-oxidant rich fruit in the world!

It does many good things from enhancing brain health to keeping your heart strong.

Blueberries are actually another heroic, cape wearing SUPER FOOD! Yep, here’s another superfood alert!

So the antioxidant properties of blueberries mean that they precent cell damage and they also protect against several types of chronic disease, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. That’s to do with having the highest levels of antioxidants but also the profile of them, which includes phenols, flavonoids and anthocyanins.

Studies have shown that blueberry extract was able to inhibit the growth and spread of stomach, prostate, intestine and breast cancer cells and
Blueberries provide a whopping 3.6 grams of fibre per cupful, which gives you up to 14 percent of your daily fibre needs and this means it’s great for slow digestion and therefore blueberries are great for helping with weight loss and digestion.

One of the most impressive health benefits of blueberries is its ability to enhance brain health. There have been many studies suggesting that eating blueberries could improve memory and cognition.

So blueberries – delicious, nutritious, fibre rich and low in sugar – you are my first choice for a breakfast smoothie or an afternoon snack.

What a wonderful superfood you are!

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Tweaklet #42 – Lemons

Lemons are one of those things that people swear by. From cleaning pots and polishing furniture to using lemons as a bug spray, they are everyone’s favourite cure-all.

And in fact their use in our diets is very versatile and beneficial. Because they are full of vitamin C and antioxidants, lemons help boost our immune systems and fight inflammation. And we know, don’t we, that inflammation is at the root of so many health issues and diseases.
Fighting rogue cells in the body, like those that form cancer cells, are definitely part of a lemon’s life work.

Lemons also help prevent kidney stones, increase iron absorption and improve the health of your skin.

The interesting thing is that lemons, with their ultra-tart taste, are thought of as very acidic, yet inside our bodies they are highly alkaline, so that means they are great for restoring a healthy balance in our gut.

Perhaps their most impressive benefit is their effect on heart health. Again the high levels of vitamin C make them the most beneficial, out of any fruit or vegetable, in keeping our hearts healthy and strong.

I find the easiest way to include lemons in my diet is with a daily hot water drink with a slice of lemon and grated ginger. I have it before anything else most days. It’s like drinking a cup of absolute goodness and even if the rest of my day’s eating goes horribly wrong, at least I know I’ve given myself a real lemon boost.

So when life gives you lemons……..consider yourself lucky!

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Tweaklet #41 – Cholesterol: Natural Solutions

Cholesterol is a big subject and the cause of it isn’t just food related but today we’re just going to focus on some simple food tweaks that can help lower cholesterol.

Essentially the mix is including a range of healthy fats, quality vegetables
Firstly there’s olive oil which is loaded with heart-healthy saturated fats which has been shown to drop bad cholesterol levels.

Good old vegetables are next as they are nutrient dense and high in vitamins and minerals.

Nuts are great all-rounders in lowering all the bad cholesterol markers. And they are high in fibre and healthy fats. Seeds like flax seeds are also excellent for heart health.

Fatty fish like salmon are packed with beneficial omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and decrease cholesterol.

Then there’s spices like Turmeric and garlic that play their valuable part. Other vegetables like beans and legumes and sweet potatoes contain active cholesterol-lowering compounds. Avocados are excellent too, as are persimmons, that unusual fruit.

Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants can be used to good effect as can gluten-free whole grains. The usual things to avoid apply – caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, refined carbohydrates and trans fats. To help with cholesterol, like COQ10 and fish oil…….and essential oils that help lower and manage cholesterol levels.

Once diagnosed cholesterol is something many of us can manage successfully with some tweaks to our diet and it certainly can’t hurt to tweak things in that direction anyway.

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Tweaklet #40 – Adrenal Health

It’s not very sexy talking about our internal organs but sometimes we just have to. A condition that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed is adrenal fatigue. The adrenals are the small glands located at the top of each kidney.

Adrenal fatigue occurs when we’ve been under a lot of physical, mental or emotional stress, especially for a prolonged period. We don’t just feel a bit tired, we feel extremely fatigued,…….we have brain fog……….. we may have gained weight…………… have elevated blood pressure……..experience hair loss……..moodiness and depression….. and in more serious cases, have become insulin resistant.

But once again let’s turn to food and see what we can do to help ourselves through tweaking our diet.

For a start you need to eliminate some foods that are undoubtedly putting a load on your body. In fact these are good for all of us to consider eliminating…
Caffeine…………alcohol…………white sugar……………white flour……………processed foods………..fried foods……………soda…………..artificial sweeteners.
What you want to eat are foods that are nutrient dense but easy to digest and have plenty of healthy fats and fibre.  Lean meat or fish…………., leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables,……………. low sugar fruits,…………… coconut…………, nuts……………., seeds, ……………fermented foods

Timing when you eat is important as it helps regulate your blood sugar which in turn supports your adrenal glands. Eat regularly and don’t skip meals. When your body has adrenal fatigue it needs routine and balance so that your energy and cortisol levels are consistently maintained.

Even when you’re feeling the worst effects of adrenal fatigue you will really notice a difference if you tweak your diet in these simple ways.

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