Santa, You Better Watch Out

When Santa got stuck up the chimney he began to shout … “you girls and boys won’t get any toys if you don’t pull me out”!  How, how, how… did Santa get stuck up there?  Hmmm.. it looks like he could have Syndrome X.

All grown up now, I can take an objective view of this Jolly ol’ fella who may have added some magic to my childhood memories.  Although I sometimes wonder at the scale of psychological damage inflicted in the name of Santa, on the innocent, who offer only pure belief and love in return.  I know that my own mother made a conscious effort to play down the character of ‘Santa’ with us kids because she was so devastated to find out in her own childhood that he wasn’t real.  And, at our office Christmas celebrations one year, a colleague recalled how, at age 12 and being the oldest child in her family, she got ‘the truth’ along with her Christmas present.  In one swift and traumatic moment she was handed a new pair of gloves and leveled with an instruction to grow up, as she watched her younger siblings open their Christmas toys.  “You better watch out, you better not cry”, even though you’ve been snookered by a lie!   I thank my mother for having the wisdom to save us from at least falling hook, line and sinker for the phantom that is Santa.  Anyway, I digress!

What is Syndrome X ?

There is no direct connection between Syndrome X and Santa or Xmas, the season of stress and over-indulgence, but indirectly it seems like the perfect occasion to talk about this health condition.  Syndrome X is also called ‘Metabolic Syndrome’ [MetS].  MetS is a metabolic imbalance.  This means that how your body metabolizes and stores energy is off balance.  The physical manifestation of MetS is ‘fat around the middle’, also called visceral fat.   Scientists now know that storing fat around the middle of your body rather than anywhere else, has major health implications, and studies show that it increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and cancer.  But, you don’t even have to be overweight to carry fat around the middle.  And, it’s not only about what you eat, your diet is just one contributing factor.

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Magnesium Rich Snacks

Here are a couple of ‘magnesium rich’ snack ideas to help you include more magnesium in your diet in a delicious and nutritious way 🙂

Cacao Coco Nut Balls

Source: Google Images
  •  12 dates
  • 140g ground almonds
  • 70g shredded/desiccated coconut [extra for rolling]
  • 70g melted coconut oil
  • 33g cacao powder
  • 2 tblsp milled chia seeds
  • 90g chopped hazelnuts

Method:

Process dates, ground almonds, coconut, coconut oil, cacao powder and chia seeds until mixture comes together.  Place in a bowl and take a small amount and form a ball.  Roll the ball in the coconut.  Chill in the fridge on a baking sheet or tray.

These can be frozen and kept for 1 month.

This mixture makes 12 balls.  Each ball (44g) is about 267 calories, so don’t go mad, it’s a sweet treat!    High in magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and copper.  High in Vitamin E and Biotin (B7).


Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Source: Google Images
  • 4 tblsp coconut oil (40g) melted
  • 2 cups (260g) of raw pumpkin seeds
  • 4 tsps of tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat.

Add pumpkin seeds and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until they start to pop and turn golden brown.   Add cayenne and tabasco, toss and continue to cook for another minute.  Transfer to a tray lined with parchment paper, carefully spread out in a single layer and set aside to let cool before serving.

A perfect accompaniment to a green leafy salad.  Divided into 8 portions, 1 portion would contain about 237 calories.  High in magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and iron.   Pumpkin seeds are also high in Vitamin B3 and the amino acid Tryptophan so all in all really good for keeping you calm! The cayenne can stimulate your body’s circulation and reduce acidity. It’s a powerful, spicy little pepper and touts many health benefits like helping decrease appetite and retarding or slowing the growth of fat cells.

Receipt:  Adapted from Dr. Axe - Magnesium Recipes

The Magic Pill

The Magic Pill:  A Film Review

 

Source: Google Images

This film is about an hour and a half long.  The producer Pete Evans may be better known as one of the judges on the Australian ‘My Kitchen Rules’  series.  The film looks at the merits of the ketogenic diet. Ketogenic basically means eating a diet that is high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carbohydrate.  The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.  The ketogenic diet was originally used by physicians in the 1920s to treat epilepsy but was largely abandoned in favour of new anticonvulsant drugs.  It is proposed that as a species this diet may better suit our biochemistry and, if done correctly, could be one way of alleviating or preventing chronic diseases and brain conditions.  Our brains are made up of 60% fat.  However, this turns the whole low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet on its head.  It pretty much turns the food pyramid up-side-down.  Governing health bodies believe the diet to be controversial, unscientific and a threat to public health.  The Health Professions Council of South Africa spent three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting Tim Noakes, emeritus professor and scientist, with a charge of misconduct after he gave low-carbohydrate, high-fat dietary advice to a weening mother on twitter.

The film follows the progress of a group of indigenous people, the Yolngu, on a 10 day ‘Hope for Health’ retreat.   All the participants suffer from diabetes and other chronic diseases, unheard of among these people before their introduction to the western diet.  It also follows the progress of a young family with an autistic 5 year old girl, Abigail, an autistic boy, an asthmatic singer and two women moving fearfully into later life.  All the participants are on a cocktail of medications to keep their chronic conditions under control and all are ready to try the ketogenic diet. Could embracing good fats and drastically reducing carbs be the key to better health?  Is a radical re-think needed?  One woman featured, says the disappearance of her breast cancer tumour is due to the ketogenic diet.  A brave lady to declare this to a world that might not want to listen.

Easy viewing with no high-pitched drama, the film gently opens us up to the idea that perhaps we have moved away from our connection with the land, the nature of food and even our own natural instincts when it comes to eating.  Lost!!   But there is ‘Hope for Health’.  You will see that it is not easy to begin making dietary changes and that this particular approach really goes against the ‘grain’ 🙂 and the tide. You will be inspired by the results these brave people achieved in a relatively short time.  They share their personal stories to show others that they have found a way back to better health.

Abigail stole the show.  If you want to keep up with how she is doing now her dad made a blog to share their story.    You can find it by clicking here.

© AoS2018

Magnesium ‘Miracle Mineral’

In my first blog about Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, I explained that it is unusual for Nutritional Therapists to recommend a single nutrient supplement, but that Vitamin D could be the exception.  Why?   Over many years, science has shown how insufficient vitamin D levels contribute to health concerns on virtually every level and many have responded by boosting levels with supplementation or quality time in the sun.   But here is another nutrient which has a similarly wide-reaching effect in the body, which is also largely deficient in the population and could benefit from supplementation.  Magnesium!  Every known illness is associated with magnesium deficiency.  Like vitamin D, magnesium supports seemingly endless functions and bodily systems.   It is a macro-mineral, the fourth most abundant in the body and a co-factor (a molecule that assists in chemical processes in the body) for the proper functioning of 325 enzymes.  Ongoing magnesium deficiency has been linked to numbness and tingling, muscle cramps and twitches, headaches and migraines, constipation, insomnia, irregular heart rhythms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, premenstrual syndrome, personality changes, anxiety, fatigue and weakness, fibromyalgia, vertigo, and seizures…. and that’s just for a start!   But why such widespread lack?  Historically humans met their needs for magnesium through clean spring, river or lake mineral rich water and ate food grown in mineral rich soil.  Magnesium is much more plentiful in the diet than vitamin D, provided you are including magnesium rich foods.  Even so, mineral depleted soil produces a much lower mineral content in natural foods as compared to the beginning of the last century.  Other modern day factors also contribute to its depletion in the body such as stress, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and sugar.  In this context, deficiency is easier to fathom!  Like vitamin D, having sufficient levels of magnesium could stack the potential for many more health benefits in your favour.  If you are interested in knowing more about magnesium, the best dietary and other sources, and the best type of magnesium to supplement with, then read on!   Q. Prefer to watch a video?  I have posted a link at the end of the blog.

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Spice Aid Cabinet

Mankind has sought out plants with medicinal properties since time immemorial.  Even today when there have been great developments in the field of chemistry, pharmaceuticals and medicine, these medicinal plants have lost none of their importance.  Botanical drugs are at the birth place of the current pharmaceutical industry, for example, the ancient Egyptians used the bark of the Willow tree for the relief of aches and pains.  The willow tree yields ‘salicylic acid’ which is the active pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory component that is used to make the aspirin of today.  Probably because big pharma don’t really want you to know that some of your inexpensive household herbs and spices could be the answer to your aches, pains and other health conditions, this information has become generally suppressed and instead we are encouraged by media advertising to believe that pharmaceutical drugs are the only solution.  The general public has consequently lost trust in natural remedies while big pharma secretly know their benefits.  Plant based medical practices like traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic and Naturopathic medicine, for example, are often viewed as a last resort when conventional medicine offers us no solution.  Ideally the reverse would be the case, where natural remedies are used first and pharmaceutical drugs, with their known side-effects, are a last resort.  In this blog I am sharing my knowledge of some of the spices that are ‘hot’ in the world of nutrition.  You may already have them in your spice cabinet.  They offer a relatively inexpensive way of stacking some health benefits in your favour with little effort!   Mother Nature’s flavour favours. Many spices have health benefits, too many to cover here, so I have narrowed them down to some of the most popular and widely used today in the prevention and treatment of the chronic diseases.  I have checked each spice for known interactions {A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions}. There are none for those mentioned and so they are completely safe to use.  So, what are these little pots of magic dust??  Read on to find out!

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