Tweaklet #61 – Water

I am focusing again on Water in this episode. I don’t think there is anything more important to our health than drinking water.

It hydrates our cells which means it boosts the body’s ability to regenerate and rejuvenate. It flushes out toxins and prevents our system from getting sluggish and storing things it really should be eliminating.

It also improves the alkalinity of our system and you might remember from other episodes – disease and inflammation thrive on acidity and absolutely cannot live in alkaline conditions. This applies to every type of disease and inflammation so why wouldn’t we do our best to maintain an alkaline system.

Well, there are a couple of practical things about increasing your water intake – some people, like me, need to go to the bathroom a lot when we drink even moderate amounts. Given that we need to spend some time in the day doing other things than visiting the bathroom, it can be an issue.

But I do find that once I’ve been in the habit of upping my water intake, this levels out quite a bit so it’s worth persisting.

Some people say they don’t like the taste of water. To you dear folks, I say “Do your best to build a bridge and get over this hurdle” because this really isn’t a good reason.  Don’t substitute other liquids for water, although some herbal tea is OK and you could make your own lemonade with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, water and stevia to sweeten.

If sparkling water is your thing, some sparkling is OK although carbonation of any kind does rob your blood of oxygen. So bear that in mind.

So what sort of quantity are we talking about – 8 to 10 glasses is a good guide. Keep water with you all the time so that you remember to drink and if need be set a reminder on your phone.

It’s a good idea  to drink a large glass of water when you first wake up before taking anything else in and you can also help curb your appetite by drinking water before a meal.

But basically Tweakleters, just drink a good amount of water throughout each day.  Your body will thank you and you WILL notice a difference in how you feel. Remember, your body is your best guide, so pay attention it will let you know what it needs.

Thanks for watching! I’m off to get a drink of water!

See you next time!

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Tweaklet #60 – Celery

Some people are going to want to run in the other direction today because I am going to talk about Celery and celery is one of THE most hated vegetables in the world!

I love pretty much all foods so I am very curious when people express a strong dislike of something and celery is one that comes up often.

People who hate celery are generally not picky eaters. They will often say I eat everything, just not celery!

Those of us who like it can’t understand what all the fuss is about. We know it contains excellent fibre and makes a great crudité to use in dips. It’s virtually calorie free, so that’s a bonus and medicinally it’s been used for centuries because of its anti-inflammatory properties to treat things like gout, arthritis to lower cholesterol and to provide pain relief. Celery helps protect our hearts our livers prevent ulcers and improve digestion.

Lovers of celery think it tastes quite sweet and mild, with no particular smell. Celery haters describe a strong soapy, dirty rainwater taste and an odour that cannot be masked even when wrapped and bagged and stuffed way in the back of the fridge or sneakily buried under a strong tasting sauce!

And if you try to convince a celery hater to give it another try, all they hear is BLAH BLAH BLAH as they try to block out what you’re saying.

I am not mocking you celery haters, honest. In fact you’ve inspired me to do more research on foods people hate, so thank you. I am only sorry I have not found any useful research on why celery tops the hate list.

It is a member of the Umbellifer family and as well as carrots and parsnips, other members include spices like dill, parsley, caraway, cumin (which some people have an issue with. Someone I know says cumin smells like sweaty armpits!) and another member of the same family is Coriander, which in its leafy state is another food that’s top of the most hated list! Is there a correlation between Celery and Coriander? I don’t know. But one of you might, so if you have some good information on this topic, please let me know. And if you have a violent dislike of any particular food I’d love to hear about that too.

So dear Tweakleters I will leave you in peace. I won’t go on any more about celery, at least not today!

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Tweaklet #59 – Cooking Oils

There was a cheesy TV commercial when I was growing up about car oils with two guys speaking in terrible New York accents and the punchline was “oils and ain’t oils”.

It was cheesy but memorable ad! And I mention it today because this also applies to cooking oils. Some commonly used cooking oils are very bad for our health. So here’s some information about oil that I’ve learned.

The first one to avoid is anything labelled vegetable oil. Usually this is heavily refined soybean oil, or possibly heavily refined cottonseed, safflower, corn or grapeseed. Obviously it’s the heavily refined part that is of concern – they are processed under high heat pressure and using industrial solvents!

The other big issue with these vegetable oils is that they are mostly composed of polyunsaturated fats, which is the most reactive type of fat). This means they are prone to oxidation and free radical production, when exposed to heat and light.

What this means for our body is that these oils cause inflammation which can in turn lead to many internal problems and even serious disease such as cancer and heart disease.

There are a number of other unhealthy oils, like Canola and Margarine, which we’ll tackle in Part Two. For now let’s look at the top three HEALTHY alternatives.

Virgin coconut oil – because it is very stable at medium to high temperatures and full of healthy fats that provide great health benefits.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil which is good for low temperature cooking and to use in your lovely homemade salad dressings.

Real Butter – particularly grass fed butter which contains important nutrients, vitamins and omega-3s.

So remember my fellow Tweakleters OILS AINT OILS and when you’re cooking, baking and making dressings, consider ditching the vegetable oil and explore some new alternatives.

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Tweaklet #58 – Washing fruits and vegetables

I love buying fresh fruit and vegetables but one thing I have been guilty of is not being well informed as to how best to wash it when I get it home. Mostly I just run rinse it in running water before I use it and I know that whilst that gets rid of some pesticide residues it is not the best form of cleaning my precious produce.

So I researched.

I started with commercial produce cleaners and most sources told me that most of these are not much better than just using water.

The best ways to wash your fruit and veg are with salt water, vinegar water, or baking soda water.

Researchers found that a 10% salt water solution was the most effective. Using full strength vinegar was equally effective but would quickly be very expensive and of course there’s that lingering vinegar taste!

Surprisingly a weak baking soda solution (that’s one ounce of baking soda to 100 ounces of water) was THE most effective way of removing pesticide residues from the skin and below the skin. However it took 12 to 15 minutes of soaking time.

When I want to cook I like to get going so I needed to find the most efficient method to clean my fruit and veggies.

I liked the quick technique of using a salad spinner for leafy greens where you dump in your greens, fill the spinner with water and a teaspoon of baking soda. You soak them for a minute or two, dump out the water and rinse and then spin them dry.

Other hardier veggies you can simply soak them in the water and baking soda solution, scrub them, then rinse them and dry them off.

Most fruit can be washed in the same way. However berries and delicate fruit should be carefully patted dry. You need to eliminate moisture because this accelerates spoilage, microflora, and mold. So it’s good to wash them just before you eat them.

One important thing to note is that even organic produce needs cleaning as it generally carries some pesticide residue as well.

But like anything on Tweaklets, adding this extra step into your food preparation should not be a nuisance so don’t make it a big deal. Find a method for washing your fruit and vegetables that works for you. Even rinsing it under running water has some benefits. And that’s what we’re all about isn’t it – tiny food tweaks that make all the difference to our health!

If you have any other good techniques I’d love to hear about them so write in the Comments below.

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Tweaklet #57 – Green Tea vs Black Tea

Are you a tea drinker? If you’re not then I might have a few incentives for you to consider.

Next to water, tea is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. Recently green tea has received more attention for its health benefits, than black tea, but actually, they both contain many beneficial substances that boost good health.

So black and green tea come from the same camellia sinesis plant. They are both harvested from the upper buds and leaves of the plant. Green tea is dried slightly and then heated to stop oxidation and enhance the flavour.

Black tea is crushed and rolled and allowed to oxidize and turn a dark colour before it is harvested. This gives it a stronger richer flavour.

Both green and black tea contain large quantities of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, but different types. What they have in common are flavonoids which protect our bodies against chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

These flavonoids protect the heart and blood vessels to lower cholesterol, harmful plaque and blood pressure.

Green tea has some other powerful protective compounds that help to burn fat, boost the immune system, help with allergies and asthma. It also contains very useful amino acids and trace elements such as calcium, magnesium, chromium, manganese, iron, copper and zinc.

Green and black tea both contain caffeine, generally green has slightly less, and both have less caffeine than coffee. Interestingly though it’s the way tea affects brain chemicals that for many people make it preferable to coffee.

Tea helps us feel awake and alert but in a relaxed state of mind, which is a really beneficial balance for your brain and your general state of well being. Hmmm, I like it – calm and alert! Something to strive for!

If you’re wondering which type of tea to choose, studies show both types of tea contain similar beneficial health benefits, but green tea wins big in terms of the amounts of antioxidants it contains.

So all that’s left to be said is get brewing! As always choose a quality product and work out what feels good when you drink it. Sharpening our intuition around food that suits our body is a wonderful thing to practice.

Green tea, black tea another tiny food tweak from Tweaklets.

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Tweaklet #56 – Cacao vs Cocoa

OK boys and girls, let’s talk CHOCOLATE! I say boys and girls because for many of us chocolate brings out our big kid and our inner sweet tooth. But there’s so much confusion about chocolate. We’ve talked about it before and we will undoubtedly talk about it again but today let’s clarify the differences between cacao and cocoa.

Cacao and Cocoa both start off in the same place – from the seeds or beans within the seed pods produced by the cacao tree in South America. The raw bean is very bitter and is usually fermented and dried first.

To maintain the health benefits of the cacao bean manufacturers heat them at a low temperature, which separates the fatty part of the bean from the rest of it. And now it gets chopped up into nibs, just like healthy chocolate chips!

I say healthy because cacao really is! It is one of the most powerful superfoods known to man, that not only boosts our Feel Good hormone levels, but it can also lower our blood pressure, control our appetite,  regulate insulin levels,  boost our good gut bacteria and so much more!

Cocoa starts the same way cacao does. However, during processing, it’s heated at much higher temperatures. This results in a slightly sweeter flavour but, unfortunately, a lessening of its health benefits because of the change the high temperatures cause to the bean’s molecular structure.

So it doesn’t essentially mean cocoa and chocolate made from cocoa is bad, it just doesn’t have the same integrity and is therefore not nearly as beneficial for our health.

Plus in regular chocolate, a lot of other things are often added, like dairy products, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, emulsifiers and those dreaded unknowns called FILLERS. Urgh!

So when that chocolate craving kicks in look for a good quality dark chocolate or take time to seek out some cacao nibs for a purer source of chocolate.

Then you’ll be surprised how satisfying chocolate can be because of its many benefits, including stopping other cravings and helping you get a good night’s sleep.

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Tweaklet #55 – The Keto Diet

Two popular eating modalities are the The Paleo Diet and the Keto Diet. The two terms get bandied about and are often confused, so in a previous episode we took a good look at the Paleo Diet and today we’ll explore the Keto Diet.

Its full name is the Ketogenic diet and it is structured around a diet that is high in fat, low in carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein.

The main aim is to convert your body from a predominantly carbohydrate-burning machine to a fat burning machine. As a guide, the recommended calorie ratio, on a keto diet, is around 70 to 80 percent of calories from fat, 15 to 20 percent from protein and less than 5% from carbs.

The Keto diet has been used to treat epilepsy since the 1920s so it’s not the trendy fad diet we might think. When you get the balance just right you place the body into a metabolic state called nutritional ketosis. In this state the body creates compounds called ketones and burns fat, from your body as well as from your diet.

To reach ketosis and to maintain it you need to radically reduce your carbohydrate intake and focus on healthy fats, some protein and low-carb vegetables.

Foods to include on a Keto diet are Meat, Seafood, Poultry, Full-fat dairy products, Non-starchy vegetables, Eggs, Nuts and seeds and Unrefined oils, such as olive, coconut, flaxseed, walnut and avocado oil

Foods to avoid while following the Keto diet
All sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks. All cereal grains and products made with grain flours. Fruit except perhaps a quarter cup of berries. Legumes. Sweetened, low-fat dairy and Starchy vegetables

The Benefits that are associated with a Ketogenic diet include Weight loss, a Reduction in inflammation in your joints, brain and heart. It is reported to protect against Type 2 diabetes as well as neurological diseases such as  Alzheimers and dementia

The Paleo and Keto Diets both focus on nutrient-dense food and eliminate the traps of a sugary processed food related Western diet. Generally speaking they are both low in carbohydrate and low in sugar which is better for blood sugar, weight management and has many other associated health benefits. And they both have anti-inflammatory effects.

If you’re interested, you could explore combining both the Keto and Paleo diets which many people do very successfully. It’s fun to explore different eating modalities but like any Tweaklet, do your research to find out exactly what suits YOU!

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Tweaklet #54 – The Paleo Diet

When you’re exploring healthy eating alternatives and stepping outside the conventional three meals a day, food groups, calories etc, then you have probably come across the Paleo diet and the Keto diet.

Both have gained popularity for a variety of reasons. They can also easily get confused, so over a couple of segments we’ll talk about their differences and their benefits. In this episode, we’re talking about the Paleo Diet.

Paleo follows the principles of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, with its name loosely based on the palaeolithic era and foods that have the longest history of human consumption. So, The Paleo diet refers to a framework for eating. There are no specific foods to eat, just a leaning towards natural, nutrient-dense foods rather than processed foods.

Foods to include on a Paleo diet are Meat, Fish, Eggs, Nuts, Fruits, Seeds, Roots, Unrefined oils and Natural sweeteners.

Foods to be avoided on the Paleo diet are All cereal grains and products made with grain flours, Legumes, Dairy, Refined sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks, Refined vegetable oils, Processed food and White potatoes, in some instances.

There is no exact ratio of how the key ingredients are put together. However, it is generally regarded as a low-carb way of eating because it eliminates most processed foods as well as refined sugar, grains and dairy.

People who embrace a paleo diet are looking to reduce inflammation in their bodies and to improve their weight and blood pressure. They may have blood sugar issues, possibly even problems with insulin resistance. People who are at risk of cardiovascular disease or are showing signs of autoimmune responses also turn to the paleo diet.

And the Paleo diet is really a very simple Food Tweak that fits into many people’s lifestyles and makes a significant positive impact to their health mainly because it boosts your intake of quality ingredients and eliminates processed overly refined foods.

If you have a gluten sensitivity, other food sensitivities or want to jump-start your weight loss then the Paleo diet is a good Tweaklet to try!

So that’s the Paleo diet. Next time we’ll talk about the Keto Diet.

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Tweaklet #53 – Psoriasis

Let’s talk skin and specifically Psoriasis. Psoriasis spans anything from dandruff and dry itchy skin to fungal breakouts and cracked and bleeding skin. Anyone who suffers from it knows just how irritating and painful this skin condition can be.

Psoriasis is caused by a pileup of skin cells that have replicated too rapidly. Normal healthy skin cells turnover about once a month, but when you have psoriasis the skin cells pile up way too fast.

It begins in the immune system where white blood cells, that fight inflammation, are mistakenly called into action and end up actually attacking the body.

This is called an auto-immune response and, as research is starting to determine, auto-immune issues often start, or are fuelled by an imbalance in the gut.  Conventional drug therapy only suppresses skin conditions, sometimes successfully for periods of time, but as it is not addressing the cause, this will only ever be temporary. Thankfully, you can help combat psoriasis by following a proper psoriasis diet treatment plan.

Some of the best foods to consume on a regular basis are…..

Foods high in probiotics such as organic raw cultured dairy, like kefir and fermented vegetables which introduce the healthy bacteria and yeast the gut needs.

High fibre foods, which includes eating the rainbow of fruits, vegetables, beans and seeds. These all keep the natural detoxification of your body on track.

Foods high in antioxidants like berries, nuts and kidney beans.

Foods high in zinc – grass-fed meat, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas.

Other things like wild-caught fish Herbs and spices, like curcumin and turmeric. And you can use aloe vera both internally and externally.

And make sure to drink plenty of water. Hydration and detoxification are key.

When you suffer from psoriasis it’s important to exclude, or certainly keep to a minimum, foods that increase acidity and inflammation – which includes processed foods,….. fried foods……….., simple sugars, alcohol, conventional dairy, conventional meats,  hydrogenated oils and caffeine. Keeping your diet gluten-free will also improve symptoms.

It’s never too late to take a new approach to psoriasis or any other skin condition. Making some tiny food tweaks really can help.

I’d like to thank Dr Michael Murray and Dr Josh Axe for providing such thoughtful and practical information on this and so many other subjects.

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Tweaklet #52 – Salmon

We’ve talked about the health benefits of eating fish before and one of the absolute best is salmon. Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Salmon is nutrient dense and particularly recognised for its high levels of Omega-3s.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish or fish oil help enhance bone health to keep conditions like osteoporosis at bay. They act as a natural anti-inflammatory to relieve inflammation and protect the nervous system from oxidative stress and age-related damage.

Studies show that salmon can do everything from helping boost brain function, sperm production and eye sight, to improving bone and skin health. It is full of heart-healthy fats, protein and rich in vitamins like A, D and calcium.

As demand for salmon has increased a lot of it is now produced in farmed conditions. There is a lot of debate about wild salmon versus farmed salmon. Generally speaking wild salmon has a much better nutrient profile than farmed salmon, but the biggest difference is the condition of many salmon farms. Living in a closed environment means the fish are more likely to need to be treated with chemicals which they readily absorb and pass on.

So when you’re shopping for salmon how can you tell the difference between wild and farmed?

The first sign is the colour. Farmed salmon is lighter and more pink, while wild has a deeper reddish-orange hue. Farmed fish will also a lot more fatty marbling in its flesh—those wavy white lines—since they aren’t fighting against upstream currents like wild ones.

Salmon is very versatile. It’s great simply pan-fried. Or it can be grilled or roasted or cooked in a paper parcel in the oven to seal in the flavour. And it takes flavour well so you can add a pesto or a crust or any of your favourite spices or herbs, and turned into an Asian, Indian or Mediterranean delight. You can crisp up the skin or take it off altogether.  And if you can’t buy fresh then good quality tinned salmon is OK too.

I find that even people who aren’t big fish lovers like salmon so if you haven’t had any fish for a while now’s the time to shop for a nice juicy deep reddish orange piece of salmon.

Mmmm, that’s got my mouth watering and some ideas flowing, so I’m off to get some salmon!

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