Benefits of eating seasonally

paleoeffect_seasonal_guideThe wonder of nature is that once we start following its rotation and synchronize our activities to the different energetic periods of various cycles, our lives start flowing with effortless ease. Once we collaborate with nature it will grant us great boons.

Cravings

Cravings can be good and bad, rising when the brain and the body are in need of nourishment of some sort. Bad cravings rise when we have fallen out of alignment with our routines. Incorrect eating habits can leave the body undernourished even if we have eaten a lot. A hefty lunch, eaten in haste can create a strong craving soon after eating because the digestive process has not started properly, is slow or stopped all together.

Cravings for sugar in the afternoon are a response to brain’s emergency need for fuel. The energy from sugar is released in the mouth but only lasts for a short period of time. Then craving after craving follows, leading to confused digestive rhythms.

The brain is nourished by food, by feelings and by emotions. Once there is undernourishment or malnourishment a craving rises and can be uncontrollable. The brain can translate foods as emotional comfort and vice versa by taking positive, loving thoughts and emotions for nourishment. Once we nourish our brains routinely with the correct kind of food and impressions we make sure our emotional life is kept in balance as well. With a well-nourished brain we are able to stay alert, concentrate and focus more easily as well as using our memories and imagination in a positive and creative way. But a tired brain deprived of nourishment responds first by expressing a craving.

A good craving arises when we follow seasonal dietary guidelines and maintain a daily routine that keeps our digestion, absorption and elimination under control. Once we have a good daily rhythm we start craving things only when we are hungry and our stomach is ready to start processing another load. Amazingly we also crave foods that are exactly in season. It will become hard or unsatisfying to eat kale in October and November because it would highly aggravate vata. Instead, the craving for kale is natural in spring, which is in season to pacify kapha. Then we can enjoy it to our heart’s content.

The taste sensation can be completely different from one season to another. Following what nature wants us to do and listening to our bodies needs doesn’t have to be hard at all. In winter we naturally gravitate towards warm and heavy soups and in summer we crave light salads. We find great satisfaction in filling the desires of the palate with exactly what we find in nature.

Acidity

The amount of acidic food eaten has dramatically increased in Western diets. The first and foremost reason for this is because of the quantities of white sugar and flour we consume. Secondly, we eat meat that has been reared by feeding the wrong kind of food. The meat of a cow that has been grown in a pasture eating grass is much less acidic than its industrially grown and fed counterpart.

Also, fruits and vegetables are different as regards acidity and alkalinity. Our diets should contain one third acidic foods and two-thirds alkaline foods. Eating a seasonal diet satisfies this need. Spring and summer diets are alkaline and an autumn and winter diet is acidic. Once we rotate seasonal food items on our plates we naturally keep this balance under control.

Ideal weight

Each individual has his or her ideal weight. Different body types naturally vary in their perfect balance of weight and height. Kapha people naturally tend to be more robust with thicker skin than vata people. Vatas are usually leaner and have thinner skin. Pitta people fall in the middle of these two and tend towards a medium sized body frame.

Following seasonal dietary guidelines is highly beneficial because our bodies naturally maintain a weight that benefits a long life, with good stamina to fight disease. Even though we might put weight on during winter, changing our diets to highly detoxifying and weight-decreasing spring diets will help us to get rid of the excess effortlessly. The spring diet will trigger the body to burn fat for energy. With this maneouver the body will be able to digest all the carbohydrates it is offered over summer.

Detoxing

Our bodies fall under the influence of toxins through two routes: internal and external. The external sources of toxins come mainly from food (industrial), household and beauty chemicals, radiation, plus industrial and vehicle pollution. The internal sources of toxins are faulty digestion and metabolism. Even if we lived in the cleanest part of the world and used no chemicals for cleaning ourselves and our environment, we would still fall prey to toxins – those created by a faulty digestive process.

Our digestive power varies according to the time of day and of season. It also varies depending on our eating habits. Sometimes we eat at the wrong time, or eat a lot in the evening and go to bed without having fully digested our food. There are many times in life when it’s not possible to follow nature’s guidance, for example when sickness or travel put our systems under pressure and slow down or speed up digestion to an abnormal level. As a consequence, food either stays in the gut too long or too little a time.

Whatever the reason for the accumulation of toxins, it is good to do a detox every so often. The good news is that by following an ayurvedic daily and seasonal routine of diet, the body does this naturally. The morning is dedicated to clearing slow and cold mucous collected during the night as well as to turning on the enzymes. They burn off undigested material from the stomach and gut, which are potential causes of toxins. Also, the body is set to burn fat for energy. This is really important because the toxins lodge in the fatty tissue and when we burn fat, we burn toxins.

Identically, spring season is the part of the year when the body is willing to dispel toxins. The power of detoxing is strong if we treat our bodies accordingly. The spring diet is full of detoxifying alkaline food items like leafy greens: high in chlorophyll, they scrape and clean the gut and nourish the good bacteria to do their work. Also, springtime is the period when we should increase the use of spices and herbs in our kitchen as they easily manipulate the digestive and metabolic powers. Digestive spices such as turmeric, pepper, ginger, parsley, rosemary and chilli are all very familiar to us.

Ideally there would be no need to go on a specific detox if we just followed the daily and seasonal routines for the most part in our lives. Then the body will burn the fat that contains toxins and keep our digestive power strong so that any other toxins that enter the system are dealt with efficiently and eliminated without causing havoc.

Budget

One of the great benefits of a seasonal diet is that it is cheap. Being in season, these food items are cheaper than those grown artificially in the wrong season or brought to the supermarket from a great distance. We can perhaps grow food ourselves in our gardens or terraces, or go to gather nature’s resources straight from the source. Mushrooms, berries and wild herbs like dandelion are all there to be collected in abundance, given the right season. They can be made into preserves or dried and enjoyed at a later stage.

The benefits of the daily and seasonal routines are multiple. Once the wheel starts turning and we find synergy between nature and our individual tendencies and behavioural patterns, the effort to stay healthy and strong is minimal.

Following nature’s way is to follow our true purpose of living. Once we find it, the path opens up clearly in front of us and choices that take us in the right direction become natural. We start naturally rejecting what is harmful and gracefully lean towards the healthier options in life.

How you eat your food can resolve your gluten intolerance

wheatIn my practice I often, in fact more and more, meet people who have very negative thoughts about gluten. Some of them have real problems with it. Although I am actually of the opinion that gluten should or at least can be in our diet I do respect the fact that many of us have problems in digesting it and that some people really have serious issues like celiac disease.

Faulty digestion is usually the problem behind gluten intolerance. Digestive problems can originate from faulty eating habits or psychological issues. If our digestive system worked properly and we ate gluten in a reasonable manner we should be able to digest it. No bloating, no gas, nor digestive complains should arise.

Most of the times the digestive problems are due to how we consume our food. The way we eat is often more important than what we eat. Gluten intolerance is usually a consequence of years of bad eating habits. The food itself might have been nominally healthy but the way it has been consumed has deteriorated the gut environment and caused a reactive intestinal lining where hard to digest items are not processed to satisfaction.

The good news is that once gluten intolerance is spotted it doesn’t necessarily mean that gluten is to be totally avoided henceforth. The thing to do is to clear the GI-tract from toxic sludge and enhance digestive capacity and the bacterial balance. Sooner or later it should be possible to re-introduce gluten in the diet without any digestive complaints.

Personally I would still advice anyone to stay away from white wheat flour. It provides empty calories i.e. doesn’t have much of a nutritional content and is highly glutinous. Still, an occasional intake of this shouldn’t be a problem once the digestive fire is burning strongly and steadily.

To find our how you can enhance your digestion come for a consultation. Book here.

Asafetida – the spice of the season

asafetidaThe latin name for Asafetida, or hing in Sanskrit, is Ferula fetida. “Fetida” implies smell. Indeed, the powdered spice is very pungent and almost rotten in smell and can be felt from a distance. It is like someone had passed gas. Ironically, this herb actually relieves gas. It is our spice of choice for the seasons of autumn and winter because during these times we tend to create more gas in our bodies.

Ayurvedically, gas is related to the bodily humour of vata. Vata dosha is made of ether and air. These elements give vata its behavioural patterns. Vata creates space and fills it with air. This might be going on just now in your own digestive tract causing discomfort of some degree, especially if you are a vata type, in other words, if your body type is “airy”, light and delicate. I am referring to now because, at this moment, we have moved into vata season. That means that vata energy is dominant in the nature. Nature makes us feel light and airy. Even the sturdiest and most grounded people might be feeling the effects. Problems like light sleep, irregular digestion and joint pains are very common.

When vata energy goes out of balance it starts easily creating upward movement in the body. Air can get trapped in the gut and create bloating. Anxiety is another good example. The sensation is like something was pushing from below, forcing the breath to move to the upper parts of the lungs and become faster and shallower.

Asafetida is a fabulous spice to counteract the upward moving vata. It has an amazing capacity to restore the correct movement, improve the intestinal transit and help elimination. This herb is a wonderful aid for vata kind of constipation (due to dryness) and by suppressing vata it can relieve all kind of symptoms of vata like pain and other nerve related problems.

As mentioned above, the herb is very strong. It is to be used with care. You can use it in your food: a pinch is enough. In fact, it is highly recommended to be used with beans and lentils. Pulses are astringent in quality and can easily cause gas. Asafetida helps to digest them better and this way they become safe to take, even in autumn and winter.

In India, and also outside, hing is often used by those who avoid onion and garlic in their foods as they are too rajasic, or too stimulating for the mind. Hing gives the food that pungency it might miss without those vegetables. Those who want to go on a sattvic diet might want to introduce this spice in their everyday kitchen. I, personally, use hing together with onion and garlic because I can’t really think a life without them.

I have just prepared a new batch of hinguashtaka powder, a mixture of eight herbs with asafetida. If you have problems with digestion and elimination you can order some from me. It tastes disgusting but it works wonders.

Five things to remember when doing a detox

detoxFive things to remember when doing a detox

  1. Check out your mindset
    • Before you go on a detox you should understand clearly your motivation. For example, if you are doing a detox with weight loss in mind, because you feel criticized, you are very likely to fail because the reason for your detox comes from the outside. Make sure you are 100% committed to your detox for reasons of better health and clarity of mind. Never go on a detox under pressure
  2. Choose detox according to your needs
    • Everyone is an individual and the kind of detox to go on is to be chosen accordingly. The first thing to understand is whether fasting is needed. Certain body types should not fast, even when detoxing. It is perfectly possible without depriving oneself of food. For example, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper detox is a very harsh fasting detox and should not be taken on by people with strong, fast or erratic digestive systems and especially not in autumn and winter. Seasons are also to be taken into account.  Juicing is ok in summer but not in winter. When you start your detox is of great importance
  3. Relaxation
    • Your body is the strongest healer and cleanser. It does not do that if it is under stress. Toxins lodge in the fatty tissue. Under stress the first thing the body wants to do is to withhold fat
  4. Do a no 2 every day
    • It is important to eliminate every day, preferably in the morning. If you do not eliminate toxins will start creating inside of you. And that is exactly what you are trying to avoid
  5. Stay positive and motivated
    • If you are struggling with your detox you are under stress. If the occasional feeling of hunger does not bother you too much and you can concentrate on doing things instead of thinking of food you are in a good place. If you are not obsessively pacing around the fridge thinking whether you should open it or not you should consider changing tactics
  6. Sip hot water
    • Sips of hot water make the enzymes thrive. Enzymes are responsible for digestion and metabolism. You want them to work to their best ability to break down the mucous and toxins in your body. Avoid cold water in large quantities at one go. It will slow down the enzyme function and increase mucous

Detox usually requires some strength of mind because you will have to say no to a number of things you might have been used to indulge in. During a cleansing program your mind should stay alert and positive with increased levels of energy. If you start feeling tired, faint, can’t sleep, have mood swings and almost uncontrollable cravings you are not in the right path of clearing out toxins. In the worst case you might even be getting more toxic. If nothing moves inside of you and your mind is feeling negative you have chosen the wrong detox and/or time.

 

Hungry after your meals?

Hungry again

Have you ever thought why you feel hungry in the morning after having enjoyed a heavy meal in the evening? Or, have you ever wondered why you feel peckish only after an hour of your lunch?You would think that your body was satisfied for a little while but you still are craving for food. There is a simple explanation to this: you have not absorbed what you have eaten.

If you do not absorb you do not get the nourishment and energy you need. And then, you start craving more food, even if you still have food sitting in your stomach.

This is one of the most common reasons people have digestive and weight management problems. And of course, why we have cravings as well. When we eat at the wrong time or consume too much food at one sitting our digestive process is likely to slow down or stop all together.

Imagine yourself having a heavy meal and going to sleep before it’s been digested. At night the body should concentrate on other things other than digestion and having new food in the stomach confuses the body clock. Because of this the food can stay in your stomach for a long time and be only partially absorbed to your system. For this you might still get a taste of your evening meal in your mouth in the morning. And, because you haven’t absorbed you will feel hungry and crave for sugar and carbohydrates especially.

The same can happen after lunch. If you have eaten too much, too quickly, concentrating on anything else other than eating your digestive process will be in danger. Consequently your food just sits in your tummy causing gas and/or bloating. Nothing is absorbed and when that happens you get afternoon cravings. Sugar and carbohydrates become suddenly very attractive and hard to resist. This is because the brain uses them for energy and they can release it very fast.

For you to avoid these scenarios make sure you eat with awareness, slow down, chew well, take a break to eat, do not wash your meals down with a drink and make sure you are not eating bland food. Make is tasty; you need to satisfy your taste buds as well.

If you want to get to grips with your own digestion book for a consultation here.

Cooling summer drink

Ingredients for cooling summer drinkSweet bitter and astringent are the tastes that pacify pitta energy, the one governing in the warmest third of the year. The summer heat is best pacified by what the nature provides in harvest at the moment and the tastes mentioned earlier are present in this produce. A great cooling summer fruit is pomegranate. Add some of its seeds to your salads and squeeze some fresh fruit out of it. We here in the shop also have pomegranate juice and a pomegranate molasses, all great additions to your summer kitchen. A great cooling summer juice to cool you down is

1 part pomegranate juice

1 part aloe vera juice

1 part cucumber

Fresh mint

Mix together in a mixer and enjoy, preferably room temperature or without ice. Anything cold slows down your digestion and creates sluggishness and mucous in your digestive system. Also, cold drinks do not quench your thirst well but are likely to increase mucous, which easily creates when you have e.g. an unnamed black fizzy drink. Highly sugary drinks generally are not good to drink for thirst so between an occasional juice like the above, drink plenty of warm or room temperature water and enjoy the sun!

Ghee is the love of my life

SAMSUNG CSCGhee is the love of my life. My story with this healthiest of the healthy fats is a story with a happy ending.

Ghee has myriad health benefits, not least being the best one to fry with. You might have heard about fats going rancid or turning into those harmful, trans fat ones when heated. Ghee does not go bad quickly. In fact Teflon goes bad before ghee does. So, if you need to enjoy fried food, make sure you fry it in ghee. I have even changed olive oil in my Italian kitchen to ghee. I add the olive oil at the end of cooking so that it keeps its good qualities and I get the flavour I want.

When good quality ghee is used in reasonable quantities it reduces blood cholesterol, enhances digestion and metabolism. In fact, the gut produces ghee on its own, called butyric acid, and without it the gut cannot function properly. Ghee is also brain food, it nourishes and lubricates the nervous system and is very good for the eyes. In fact, I often prescribe an application of ghee straight into the eyes for those having problems with dryness, heat and tiredness. I also heal eye infections with ghee, the last one being those of my 3-year-old. Talk to my previous receptionist. She had an infection in both eyes and it was dealt within three days with a frequent application of ghee. It works wonders.

Here’s how to make it:

  • Melt 2-3 packs of organic unsalted butter in a pot

SAMSUNG CSC

  • Let the butter melt really, really slowly so the milk residue (proteins) settle at the bottom of the pot

SAMSUNG CSC

  • Pour the mixture through a muslin cloth and what is strained through the cloth is fresh ghee

SAMSUNG CSC

If your hob is too hot to let the butter melt slowly, don’t worry – you can still obtain good ghee by slowly letting it boil for a few hours. The milk solids then come to the surface and you can peel them off and, in the end, pour the mixture through a muslin cloth to get your homemade ghee.

Pukka Herbs Sensory Event

photo 4

Wholistic herbs

Our main supplier of herbs is truly on a mission to get the word out there to let everyone – not only the aficionados of ayurveda – know how herbs can be of massive benefit when it comes to improving our health and wellbeing. I, a practitioner of ayurveda, am well aware of the power of herbs and use this particular brand in my practice because the products are certified organic, ethically sourced from small producers and are also a local brand, which is important when I source products for my retail space.

photo 3

Herb garden

I went to a PR launch event in Shoreditch where the revamped selection of their herbal products was presented in a fashion that would easily win over anyone’s mind to the enchanting world of herbs. There was a garden for fresh herbs to taste, teas to try (and I must say that these new entries in their selection rock), a chat with the founders of Pukka Herbs, a mocktail bar of herbal superfoods and a super calming and energizing session at the same time of gong therapy. It’s certainly a clever way to get the mind to relax after a full day of work and receive all the information about the new products.

photo 2

Mocktail bar

I must say am very intrigued by their new “wholistic herbs”. I was presented with cinnamon and turmeric – a taste of each was quite mind-blowing. Pukka Herbs has worked to develop a very concentrated form of a single herb, not by singling out an active ingredient (for example extracting curcumin out of turmeric) but making a concentration out of a liquid herbal decoction, an alcoholic herbal infusion and an infusion of the specific herb in CO2. The result is powerful. I tasted a cinnamon that was ten times stronger in taste than the normal. They have then created ranges to suit our everyday needs for prevention and healing: products to sustain our “get up and go”, Digestives, Vitalisers, for Female health, for Moods and for Cleansing. Compared to the earlier Pukka Herbs selection I think this new branding provides an easier way to navigate through different herbal products giving direct information on the action of different herbs.

photo 5

Pukka Herbs owners Time and Sebastian

I keep a stock of loose herbs by Pukka, which I prescribe on the spot for clients who come for a health consultation as this is the way I work with individuals who come to me for specific health issues. When you have an ad hoc need of a supplement of quality and safety, you will soon find a selection of the new wholistic range in our shop.

 

Rules for sensible eating

sheknowsHave you ever noticed that after finishing a plate of food you actually didn’t taste much of what you ate? Did it go down with such speed and volume that the only thing to stop you eating more was the stomach stretching to levels that started hurting? Yes, I’ve done that too. Many times. What used to happen after hurrying back home from work with an empty stomach is not something I want to share here, but my point is that when stressed, you make wrong decisions. This is the number one rule of sensible eating: you should be relaxed when you start your meal.

What and how you eat is incredibly important and often how is even more important than what. Even the healthiest foods can become toxic if you eat them in a wrong way, be that too much, too fast or eaten in a wrong combination. If you have a plateful of raw spinach that you firstly don’t want to eat because it has no salt or butter on it, your salivary glands don’t excrete enough saliva. Your digestive power goes down when you have no appetite for what’s on your plate. Then, the enzymes in your stomach do not work well because you haven’t secreted enough saliva, and whatever happens thereafter in your gut is not something to brag about (but it has something to do with toxins). So this then is rule number two of sensible eating: make sure your food is appetising.

You also have to make sure you have understood if your need to eat is because you are actually hungry and not just because you have an appetite. Rule number three consists of making sure you don’t eat before you’ve digested your previous meal. There is however (& hooray), a trick you can try to test this. When you get a craving have half a glass of warm water. If this makes you burp, you have not fully digested yet and should wait until the previous meal has left the bottom of your stomach.

These are a few helpful practical tips for your everyday life. If you are interested in knowing more, come for a health consultation at our centre. When you book, remember to mention this article and you’ll get a 15% discount on your first session, or if you prefer to book online, simply use the promocode “toxinfree”.