Is Your Body too Acidic?

With the huge amount of acid-producing foods that we consume coupled with the acid-forming tasks that the body naturally carries out, it has become increasingly challenging to maintain a slightly alkaline state. The key to preventing disease is maintaining a slightly alkaline pH.

Dr. David Williams, a medical researcher, biochemist and chiropractor, who also has a reputation as one of the world’s leading authorities on natural healing, vouches for this.

Signs that your body’s pH is hovering in the extreme acidic end are:

  1. Chest pain
  2. Indigestion
  3. Nausea
  4. Feelings of hunger

How to make your body more alkaline:

– Eat alkaline foods: You can find a list of alkalizing foods –here

– Avoid acidic foods: deep fried foods, processed foods, meat, dairy products, eggs, fish and refined sugars. Beverages high in sugar are acidic, including pop, energy drinks, sweetened teas and fruit juice.

– Reduce stress in you life: Research conducted around the world has demonstrated that there is a correlation between daily stress in your life and the body’s acidity. Stress is often linked to anxiety: Read our blog post 9 Natural Remedies for Anxiety to learn how to reduce stress.

– Consume fresh vegetable juices daily. If you don’t own a juicer, consider investing in a Vitamix. Try our Healing Raw Green Soup recipe that’s loaded with veggies.

healthy-juice-orange-alkaline

The idea that food influences the pH of the body dates back to the early 1900’s. Upon testing different foods, researchers discovered the majority of foods were either alkaline-producing or acid-producing. A link was made between patients that brought their pH back to a normal range and their reduced health complaints.

pH levels are determined by measuring the balance of acidity and alkalinity present in your body. The scale below reflects the difference between the two; values below 7 are acidic and above 7 are alkaline. Our body’s optimal pH level of the blood is 7.4. It is crucial that we seek to maintain a level as close as possible to this to ensure the enzymes in our body function optimally.

Ph-Scale

To achieve optimal pH, many experts recommend a ratio of 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods.

The American physician M.D., Dr. Gabriel Cousens states in his book Conscious Eating,

“It is not the food which determines if it makes us acid or alkaline. It is how the body responds to the food. It may be possible some people have a constitutional tendency to be either acid or alkaline in their metabolism regardless of their diet.”

Decoding egg carton labels

Shopping for eggs can be confusing when cartons are plastered with marketing jargon. Cage-free? Organic? Brown or white? We have decoded egg carton labels for you and have compiled some tips on what really matters and what doesn’t, when it comes to buying eggs.

The label: Conventional eggs (Grade AA, A, B)

What it means: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a rating system for eggs that is based on quality factors including freshness, defects and shell attributes. Eggs are given grades:

  • Grade AA have thick, firm whites and are best for frying
  • Grade A are similar to AA eggs, except the whites are slightly less firm
  • Grade B usually have thinner whites and are ideal for omelettes and cake mixes

These are eggs originate from “commercially farmed” chickens that are typically housed in dark, enclosed spaces with no access to the outdoors.

The label: Cage-free

What it means: Cage-free eggs are laid by hens that are free to roam in an open space. This term is deceiving because they are not completely free-roaming hens – the “open space” is typically inside a barn or poultry house without access to the outdoors. Organic and regular hens can be cage-free.

The label: Free-Range

What it means: Free-range eggs are one step up from cage-free eggs. The hens have access to the outdoors, though the duration or quality of time spent outdoors is unclear. These are better than regular eggs because of the superior treatment of the animal.

The label: Certified organic

What it means: USDA organic certified eggs means the hens receive organic feed that does not contain toxic pesticides or herbicides. These hens are never caged and must have access to the outdoors (free-range).

The label: Omega-3 enriched

What it means: Omega-3 enriched eggs come from hens whose feed is enriched with healthy fatty acids, typically in the form of flaxseed. If your diet contains oily fish (such as salmon, trout and sardines) or you take fish-oil supplements, consuming Omega-3 enriched eggs may not have a huge impact on your diet.

The label: Pasture-raised 

What it means: Pasture-raised eggs are laid by hens that are free to roam on fresh pasture. Their diet is organic. The colour of the egg yolk will be bright orange, in comparison to egg yolks from caged hens that tend to be dull and pale yellow. You can find these at a Farmer’s market or your local farmer.

Source: Jules
Source: Jules

Tips:

  •  Terms such as “Natural” or “hormone-free” shouldn’t be a determining factor in your decision making. According to the USDA, these term mean that nothing was added to the egg. All eggs satisfy this criteria
  • Colour: Eggs typically come in brown or white. The difference in colour is due to the breed of the chicken. A brown egg is no healthier than a white egg – there is no difference in nutritional benefits
  • General rule of thumb: the more expensive the egg, the better quality it is
  • Choose organic eggs if you eat eggs regularly
  • When it comes to size, Extra Large, Large and Medium are commonly found in stores. Larger sized eggs will contain more protein
  • For further reading, see the University of Berkeley’s Supermarket Buying Guide on eggs

6 health boosting smoothie additions

Smoothies can be a nutritional powerhouse if they are created with health-boosting bonus ingredients. Aside from fresh fruits and vegetables, adding some powerful powders and seeds to your blended beverage is a simple way to include more vitamins and minerals in your diet. Here’s a list of some of our favourite options:

1. Cacao powder and cacao nibs

Zebra-Organics-Cacao-11 copyNaturally loaded with antioxidants, cacao can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, which can translate to a healthier heart. Cacao can help trigger the release of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins. Instead of a chocolate milkshake, add cacao powder or cacao nibs to your smoothie. They blend well with banana and almond butter.

Here’s a delicious recipe that includes a raw cacao blend called Anandamide: Blissful Anandamide: Tonic Recipe for Beginners

2. Maca powder

coffee-powder-263355_1280

Originating from the Peruvian Andes mountains, maca is believed to enhance your mood, reduce stress and assist in easing tension, while boosting energy. Made from the maca root, maca has a distinct caramel or malt-like flavour that will give you smoothie a hint of sweetness and a touch of bitterness. Try adding a hint of cinnamon with maca.

If you’re a fan of nut milk-based smoothies, try adding maca to your next smoothie. Here’s how to make Homemade Nut Milk.

3. Bee pollen

bee-pollen

The packed pollen ball found in pellets inside bee hives is a highly nutritious food according to a study. It contains a balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats and essential amino acids. It may help foster digestive and immune system function and support the cardiovascular system.

Commonly used by herbalists as a holistic remedy, high-quality, fresh bee pollen granules will be soft and fragrant. The tiny yellow, orange or brown granules can be added directly to your smoothie (if you haven’t tried them before, don’t be afraid to chew on some granules). Note that natural honey does not contain bee pollen.

4. Chia seeds

Source: Stacy Spensely
Source: Stacy Spensely

When exposed to liquid chia seeds form a gelatinous, sticky coating that helps them act as a bonding agent to foster digestion. Rich in fibre, chia seeds contain more healthy Omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds and other grains, according to Harvard Medical School.

Adding a table spoon of chia seeds to your smoothie will give it a nutritious boost. Two varieties of chia are most commonly found in health food stores and supermarkets; white and gray-black seeds, which can be used interchangeably.

5. Hemp seeds

Source: Ruby Ran (this image has been modified)
Source: Ruby Ran (this image has been modified)

Containing protein and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, hemp seeds are soft and very easy to digest. Adding a tablespoon to your smoothie will give it a slightly nutty and earthy taste. The seeds are small and blend well, so it’s likely you won’t even notice them in your smoothie.

Further reading: Health Benefits of Hempseed

6. Matcha (Green tea powder)

Source: Mattie Hagedorn
Source: Mattie Hagedorn

Originating from Japan, this concentrated powdered form of green tea contains 137 times more antioxidants than brewed green tea, according to research. Although matcha contains caffeine, it also contains a substance that unlike coffee, slows the release of caffeine into the bloodstream, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Matcha has a noble aroma and will add a hint of sweetness to your smoothie, along with a deep vegetal taste. Its fresh taste awakens the senses.

Making your own smoothie is the best way to know exactly what ingredients it contains. Smoothies can be water or milk-based. They are quick and easy to prepare, taste great, and are a fantastic way to help achieve your daily recommended serving amount of fruits and vegetables.

Top 4 Reasons to Eat Slower

Today our pace of life is faster than ever. Many of us find ourselves with little time in our daily lives for anything and operate with a sense of urgency. When we do find the time to eat, we we gobble down our food. This lifestyle is concerning because it’s stressful and unhealthy.

The simple act of eating slower can bring positive change to your lifestyle immediately. Next time you eat, we suggest clearing your mind and drawing attention to your food. Focus on taking smaller bites and chewing each bite more times, to stretch out the amount of time you enjoy your meal. It will add on a few extra minutes, but the effects will be profound.

The Slow Food Movement was launched in Italy in 1986 in response to the growth of fast food companies. It was an attempt to salvage the slower-paced lifestyle that was historically more common and involved eating food in a more relaxed and social way.

Noodles-chopsticks

If find you’re always the first one to finish your meal, here are some reasons why you should consider slowing down your consumption:

1. Maximize enjoyment of food

Eating slowly allows you to experience the flavours, textures and smells of what you’re eating. You might find that you do eat slower when you’re consuming a meal you value more than your typical meal. Learn to savour every meal and enhance the pleasure of eating by chewing food slowly – this means 10-20 chews per bite.

2. Improve digestion

A smooth and complete digestion involves chewing thoroughly. As digestion begins in the mouth, you have the ability to kick off your body’s natural digestion process by eating slowly. An uncomfortable feeling in your stomach after a meal is an indication that you may be experiencing indigestion from eating too fast.

3. Reduce stress

“Mindful eating” in a calm and relaxed environment can reduce stress and increase satisfaction. Be in the moment and give your food your undivided attention, instead of rushing through a meal and thinking about what you’re going to do next.

According to the New York Times, mindful eating “Involves becoming aware of that reflexive urge to plow through your meal like Cookie Monster on a shortbread bender. Resist it. Leave the fork on the table. Chew slowly. Stop talking. Tune in to the texture of the pasta, the flavor of the cheese, the bright color of the sauce in the bowl, the aroma of the rising steam.”

4. Assists with weight control

Many sources suggest that eating slowly will lead to you eating less food than if you ate quickly and hence, consuming fewer calories. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to tell your body that you’re full. If you’re a fast eater, you’re more likely to eat past the point where you’re full. Harvard Medical School has addressed this: Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster. In addition, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that eating slowly reduces energy intake between meals.

This is way of life that requires sure and steady support. Here are some additional tips for slower eating:

  • Place utensils down between bites
  •  Make conversation at the dinner table
  • Use different utensils such as chopsticks
  • Set aside time to eat. Make an appointment to refuel your body
  • Create a pleasant eating environment with relaxing music

Blissful Anandamide: Tonic Recipe for Beginners

This delicious “transformational” raw cacao-based tonic will give you a boost of energy first thing in the morning. The key ingredient, Anandamide, is a blend of unsweetened Raw Heirloom Cacao and Tonic Herbs that has been known to activate and harmonise the nervous, digestive and immune systems.

Handcrafted in small batches using organic or wildcrafted ingredients, this blend contains freshly-ground spices. It has a chocolatey, creamy and spicy taste that will give you the kick you need to get you through your day. Combined with raw honey to sweeten, the mild nutty flavour of Rice Bran Solubles, and the healthy fat of Coconut Oil, this blissful tonic is nutritious and quick and easy to prepare.

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1 tbsp Zebra Organics Raw Coconut Oil
  • 1 tbsp Zebra Organics Tocotreinols Rice Bran Solubles
  • 2 tbsp Sun Potion Anandamide
  • 1 tsp Zebra Organics Raw Organic Brazilian Rainforest honey
  • 8-10 oz hot water

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a mug and slowly stir in hot water as it emulsifies. Drink and enjoy!

Notes:

A generous spoonful of anandamide is an excellent addition to smoothies, hot chocolates, cold-pressed coffee, elixirs, raw milk mixtures, or by itself as a tea.

Feature image source: PhotoPin

Source: William Ismael
Source: William Ismael

Feature photo credit: Morning ritual via photopin (license)

Homemade Nut Milk

Nut milks are a fantastic daily-free substitute for cow’s milk. If you don’t tolerate dairy well or are looking for a tasty alternative, this will be perfect for you. This recipe only requires three simple ingredients; water, a nut of your choice, and an optional sweetener.

Store-bought nut milk isn’t as fresh and contains questionable additives and chemicals. Homemade nut milks not only taste great, but they are easily digested, easy to make, and affordable.

If you’re concerned about switching to nut milk and losing the calcium that cow’s milk provides, think again. Calcium is present in a lot of plant-based foods, including broccoli, kale and figs. Harvard’s School of Public Health suggests you look beyond the dairy aisle for sources of calcium.

Enjoy nut milk with smoothies, cereal, in baking, or simply pour yourself a glass.

Ingredients (serves 3):

For unsweetened:

  • 1 cup soaked nuts (8+ hours almonds or other nuts, 6+ hours cashews)
  • 3 cups filtered water

To sweeten add:

  • 1 raw vanilla bean pod
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3-4 dates or 3 tbsp of agave, honey, or sweetener of choice

Directions:

  1. Soak nuts for at least six hours in water and cover them with a cloth, then rinse. Soaking then nuts makes them easier to digest and improves their flavour.
  2. Add all ingredients to a Vitamix or high powered blender. Blend for one and a half minutes until the texture is smooth and consistent.
  3. Pour the blended beverage into a nut milk bag, holding it over a bowl. This straining method will catch any pulp or solids present in the mixture.
  4. Once all the liquid has been strained, squeeze the pulp in the cloth until it is free of liquid. The nut milk will remain in the bowl.
  5. Serve chilled and enjoy.
Image_Nut milk straining
Photo source: Mattie Hagedorn

Tips:

The nuts have to be soaked for at least six hours and ideally overnight, so plan ahead.

Nut milk bags are commonly made of very finely weaved cheesecloth. If you don’t have this on hand, you can drape a good quality cheesecloth over a colander. If you’re using cashews, they blend well and typically don’t need to be strained.

Store the nut milk in the refrigerator after making and consume within 2-3 days, as it does not contain any preservatives. It should be stored in an air-tight jar or pitcher.

If you’re wondering what to do with the pulp that’s left over, you don’t have to throw it away. You can make nut flour out of it by dehydrating it. To do this, spread the pulp evenly over a cookie tray and dry the mixture for two hours in an oven at 200 degrees F. If you pinch the flour and it leaves moisture on your fingertips or forms a ball, allow it to dehydrate a little longer. Once fully dehydrated, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Nut flour can be used in gluten-free recipes.

Photo source for feature image: Flickr.

Simple Green Smoothie

This quick and easy to prepare smoothie is delicious and will give you the energizing boost you need to start your day. Packed with an array of ingredients, this smoothie is highly nutritious and in one sitting you will receive vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes. It’s a fast and easy way to include vegetables in your diet.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 bananas
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 3 large leaves of (purple) kale
  • 3 medjool dates
  • 1 inch raw organic ginger
  • 1 tbs spirulina powder
  • 5 chocolate stevia drops
  • 1 tbs anandamide powder (we like Sun Potion’s)

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a Vitamix and fill almost to the top with water. Blend on high for one minute. Serve and add ice to cool.

Tips:

If you don’t have a high-powered blender, we recommend chopping up the ingredients into small pieces to encourage smooth blending in a regular blender. If you don’t have dates or stevia drops on hand, honey is a good substitute that will add a touch of sweetness (try our Zebra Organics raw honey). Anandamide powder is raw cacao blend that will add a bit of a bite to the beverage. For a similar taste you can use cinnamon.

For extra nutrients, add 1-2 tbl spoons of rhodiola powder. Rhodiola powder is a plant extract that has a sweet and slightly bitter taste that is masked when incorporated with other ingredients. It’s known to reduce fatigue, relieve stress and improve overall health.

Photo_Dan_Smoothie3

Featured Image Source: Flickr. The photo was not modified in any way.

7 Scents that Foster your Wellbeing

As one of the five ways in which we connect with the world around us, smell is a powerful trigger of memories, moreso than any of our other senses. We’ve all smelt something that has transported us back in time, experiencing vivid emotions as they were back then. When you get a whiff of pine trees, you’re reminded of summer camp. When you smell freshly baked muffins, you may think of baking in your mom’s kitchen. It is no coincidence smell is intimately linked with memory; there is science backing why we treasure these aromas.

The part of our brain that processes smell, the olfactory bulb, is directly linked to the emotional centre of our brain, creating a sense of nostalgia with a simple sniff. Scents, unlike taste or touch, are directly correlated with past experiences.

Memory-inducing powers aside, aromas have a significant impact on our mind and body. We’ve highlighted 7 scents that boost wellbeing through aromatherapy.

1. Lavender can help you sleep

Well-known for its calming and soothing effects upon inhaling, lavender has been used as a remedy for an array of ailments, including anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It has been added to baths historically to help purify the body and spirit. Perhaps its most powerful feature is that it’s able to help treat insomnia. In folklore, restless sleepers stuffed their pillows with lavender flowers. This would slow down nervous system activity, enhance sleep quality, promote relaxation, and improve mood in those suffering from sleep disorders – and this is backed by science. Try adding a couple of drops to your pillow before you go sleep.

Further reading: 9 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

lavender

2. Cinnamon boosts brain function

As one of the world’s most popular spices, cinnamon has some fantastic health benefits when consumed and inhaled. When consumed, it’s been found to help lower blood sugar and ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Aside from consuming cinnamon, the aroma of cinnamon fosters brain function.

One study found that chewing cinnamon flavoured gum improved cognitive processing in participants. Compared to peppermint and jasmine, cinnamon significantly produced positive effects on brain function specifically related to attention processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory and visual-motor speed. Try keeping a bottle of cinnamon oil on your desk to help boost concentration at work or home.

Zebra-Organics-Cinnamon

3. Pine can reduce stress

Known for its strong, woody, fresh, coniferous scent, pine refreshes the mind and soothes emotions. Pine as a stress management tool helps reduce anxiety. See our blog post 9 Natural Remedies for Anxiety to learn what participants in a Japanese study experienced as they walked through a pine forest.

pine-forest

4. Citrus boosts energy levels and alertness

Instead of a cup of coffee, opt for citrus as a pick-you-up. The invigorating smell of lemon and orange scents help boost energy and alertness. According to a study conducted at a University in Holland, citrus aroma was found to increase physical activity, reduce response times in young participants and diminish negative emotions.

lemon

5. Vanilla can lift your mood

Medical studies have revealed that the scent of vanilla decreases stress and anxiety. Cancer patients that underwent Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a diagnostic procedure known to be stressful, described a huge 63 per cent less anxiety when heliotropin (a vanilla fragrance) was administered during the procedure.

Another study published in Chemical Senses Journal revealed that taking a whiff of vanilla bean amplified participants’ feelings of joy and relaxation. The results were presented on a mood map, which measures emotions ranging from happy and relaxed to depressed and apathetic.

Source: Ted Major
Source: Ted Major. This image has not been modified.

6. Peppermint may enhance concentration

Peppermint is commonly known for its cooling and relaxing effects, and because it’s an effective relaxant it is often used to treat sufferers of stress, anxiety, and restlessness. 

A study at the University of Cincinnati showed that test subjects who were exposed to the aroma of peppermint demonstrated increased performance on tasks requiring ongoing focus. Further research may be required to confirm this as “hard science”. Skeptics argue that peppermint is more likely to enhance performance in common tasks.

7. Jasmine helps with restful sleep

Considered to be one of the most exotic scents, jasmine has been described as smelling heavenly, sensuously rich, intense, sweet and warm with fruity undertones. Like lavender, drops of jasmine oil can also be applied to your pillow before going to bed if you have trouble sleeping. In fact, one study revealed that compared to the scent of lavender, inhaling jasmine resulted in greater sleep efficiency and reduced sleep movement. Another 2010 study found that not only does the scent of jasmine enhance alertness, it can also be a way to help aid the relief depression by uplifting mood.

jasmine

For quick reference here’s a list of essential oils and their suggests uses:

Calming: Lavender, vanilla, sandalwood
Waking up: Peppermint, rosemary, lemon or orange peels
Soothing: Ginger, pine needles

We encourage you to introduce these aromas into your life and to monitor how you feel to determine positive change.

9 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Anxiety has the potential to interfere with our daily lives. We are all prone to experiencing feelings of worry, nervousness or uneasiness at times. Consider these simple lifestyle changes that are natural remedies for these symptoms.

1. Drink Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea has been used for thousands of years as a herbal medicine to calm anxiety and help people sleep. Its medicinal properties come from the terpenoids and flavonoids in the dried flowers. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, chamomile extracts reduced anxiety symptoms significantly compared to placebo.

Image_Chamomile

2. Inhale lavender

Studies have proved the calming, soothing and sedative effects of breathing in lavender oil. It has been found to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature significantly. Test subjects in studies were found to be more energised and felt fresher after inhaling lavender oil. Try rubbing 2-3 drops of lavender oil in your cupped palms and inhaling deeply. It can also be rubbed onto your temples and wrists and at night, and you can also put a few drops onto your pillow to help you sleep.

lavender

3. Consume 1-3 grams of omega-3s per day

A new study has revealed that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may help reduce anxiety (and inflammation) in young healthy adults. Ohio State University conducted the 12-week study and found that symptoms of anxiety in the bloodstream of test subjects was 20 per cent lower during higher stress periods after consuming omega-3s.

Eating omega-3 fatty acids at least twice per week may provide the body with these healthy oils and lift your mood. Omega-3 is found in fish, including salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafoods including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. You may also consider a fish oil supplement.

The National Institutes of Health recommends that at least two per cent of your total daily calories are consumed as omega-3 fats. Thus a person consuming 2,000 calories daily would need to eat at least two grams of omega-3 fats.

salmon-salad

4. Spend 15 minutes a day in the sun

Soaking up 15 minutes of sun each day is the best way for the body to naturally absorb vitamin D and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Take a 15 minute break to de-stress and enjoy some outdoor activity.

In a 2007 study, researchers at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Medicine discovered the calming, psychological affects associated with taking a walk through a forest: “Forest environments are advantageous with respect to acute emotions, especially among those experiencing chronic stress. Forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes.” If you’re in an urban area, lower your stress hormone by taking a walk through a nearby park or tree-lined street.

Further reading: Top 3 Sources of Vitamin D

hands-hand-book-reading

5. Yoga/Meditation/Deep breathing exercises

Many studies support the improvement of anxiety through breathing exercises in yoga and meditation, by lowering heart rate. One study conducted in India involved test subjects participating in an integrated lifestyle program over ten days. Subjects had an array of conditions, from diabetes and hypertension to depression and anxiety. Subjects had significantly alleviated their anxiety within ten days as a result of practising relaxation techniques such as shavasana and meditation.

Dr Andrew Weil recommends three breathing exercises, from stimulating breath, to relaxing breath and breath counting. You can read more about them here. You don’t have to be in a yoga class to breathe deeply; try it from your couch or office.

Photo_Maui

6. Reduce caffeine consumption

A stimulant that raises your heart rate and your muscle’s ability to relax, caffeine boosts energy levels and can make you anxious and jittery. Try cutting down your caffeine intake and you may notice small improvements in your mood and more frequent moments of calm. Remember that caffeine is found in an array of foods, including chocolate, tea and soda. If your caffeine intake comes from coffee, try switching to a drink with less caffeine such as green tea, which has more health benefits.

Further reading about green tea: Health Lessons From International Cuisines – China

water-flowers-drink-pot

7. Exercise for 10 minutes daily

Exercise has been found to improve mental health by assisting the brain in coping with stress. Some studies have revealed that exercise has the power to immediately lift mood in depressed people. Though the effects are temporary, a brisk walk or other simple activity has been shown to provide several hours of relief. Exercize floods your body with endorphins to make you feel good. Evidence also exists to support that those who exercise regularly and vigorously are 25 per cent less likely to develop depression or anxiety disorders. People who are fit an active also generally have lower rates of anxiety and depression, compared to sedentary people (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).

girl-forest

9. Assess your diet for anxiety-aggravators 

 The link between stress/anxiety and nutrition is not new. For many people, making food changes is enough to eliminate anxiety. Certain foods that have been found to trigger and aggravate stress/anxiety include;

  • Tea, coffee, cocoa, energy drinks
  • Butter, cheese
  • Fried foods and foods high in saturated fat
  • Processed meat and shellfish
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol, soda and chocolate drinks
  • Almonds, macadamias and other nuts

Make yourself aware of these and note that you don’t have to avoid them completely, but consume them in moderation to relieve anxiety (Stress Management Society).

Foods for anxiety relief include fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and yogurt. Make sure these are abundant in your diet and drink plenty of water.

“Bring a spirit of exploration to how you eat, learning new recipes and food preparation techniques, trying new foods and finding enjoyment in shopping, cooking and eating. If you simply start eating real, whole, good quality foods, you’ll notice how much better you start to feel mood-wise, and you’ll probably start to sleep better and have fewer cravings.” – Trudy Scott, author, The anti-anxiety food solution

If you experience anxiety, be mindful of these ideas and pay close attention how you feel when you make these dietary and lifestyle changes. Some of these tips will provide temporary relief, while others are geared toward alleviating anxiety long term. It may take some time to learn what works for you in reducing anxiety.

arame-sea-vegetable

Guide to Sea vegetables

Sea vegetables are packed with a broad range of minerals (particularly iodine), making them a great addition to a healthy diet. As many of us are unfamiliar with these nutrient-loaded foods, we’ve compiled a guide that sheds some light on how to add some commonly consumed sea vegetables to your diet.

Widely consumed since ancient times in Asian countries including Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia, sea vegetables are also prominent in most countries located by water, including Iceland, Norway, Scotland, Ireland, the Pacific Islands and coastal South American countries. Sea vegetables have a long history and have been consumed by Japanese people for more than 10,000 years and makes up more than 10 per cent of their diet today. Honoured guests and royalty in ancient China were served sea vegetables as a special delicacy.

While land plants tend to be brittle and often have rigid stalks and leaves from growing in soil, sea vegetables are soft and flexible. A simple, flavourful addition to vegetable dishes, salads and soups, sea vegetables don’t require cooking.

The World’s Healthiest Foods recommends 1 tsp of sea vegetables per day. They are the highest known source of iodine and also contain vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin B2. They are also a good source of vitamin A and copper, protein, pantothenic acid, potassium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and vitamin B1. (Read more at World’s Healthiest Foods).

Kelp

The most readily available type of edible seaweed, kelp is generally found in dried form and can be eaten right out of the bag. It can be soaked for several minutes in warm water and added to vegetable stir-fries, bean stews, soups, cooked grains or simple noodle dishes. It complements carrots, onions, kale, cabbage and other greens well. It will add a salty flavour to dishes.

Kelp is a very sustainable plant that grows exceptionally fast and can grow back fully within ten days of being harvested.

A study by the University of Berkeley’s School of Public Health found that kelp can reduce the level of hormone related to breast cancer risk.

Kelp noodle salad
Kelp noodle salad

Kombu

A member of the kelp family, kombu is a thick, dark green algae. Commonly eaten in Japan, it comes dried and is used to make dashi, the essential broth used to make soup and noodle dishes. It’s cooked until soft and used to make salads. It can be roasted until crisp, then crumbled and used as a substitute for salt. It is known to help release toxins from the body and strengthen the blood (The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health).

If you’re not well acquainted with sea vegetables, try kombu egg soup. Its flavour is fairly mild and it requires minimal ingredients. You can find a great recipe here.

Photo by Annabelle Orozco
Photo by Annabelle Orozco

Wakame

Closely related to kombu, wakame is commonly used to make seafood salad and miso soup (it will often be floating on top in thin strips). It can be purchased dry or fresh and is available in powder form. When cooked, it turns a translucent green colour. Restaurants in Japan and Korea will often toss wakame with sesame oil over a bed of lettuce. The chewy seaweed complements the delicate lettuce well. Wakame helps protect against high blood pressure. tumours and infection (The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health).

Source: Weddingraphy Studio
Source: Weddingraphy Studio

Arame

A brown kelp commonly used in Japan, China and Korea, arame is characterized by a sweet, mild taste and delicate texture. Ready to eat after a brief soak in water (for at least five minutes), it turns dark brown when cooked and is a great addition to soups and salads and complements other vegetables well. Try sautéing soaked, drained arame with garlic and onions, red pepper, sweet corn. You can follow the recipe here.

Packed with iron and calcium, arame strengthens teeth and bones and enhances circulation (The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health).

Dulse flakes

Dulse does not require cooking and can be eaten right out of the bag as a snack. They are a great, healthy substitute for corn chips or potato flakes as they have a crunchy, salty flavour. A red seaweed originating from the waters of the Atlantic Coast of Canada and the shores of Ireland and Norway, dulse flakes can be eaten raw, roasted, fried, dried or can be used to thicken soups. They are excellent for sprinkling onto salads, soups or other favourite dishes. Keep on the dinner table for seasoning foods instead of using table salt.

Source: Steph
Source: Stacy

Nori

If you’ve eaten sushi rolls before, you’ve eaten nori. Thin and crispy, nori is the mildest form of seaweed and is generally found roasted in sheets. It can be eaten plain as a healthy snack, or you can try wrapping up gobs of tuna tossed with olive oil. Rich in protein, iron and calcium, nori fosters kidney and urinary function and helps improve circulation and reduce cholesterol. Try brewing a carrot daikon tea with nori to cleanse the body and help foster digestion. You can try this recipe.

Source: Paul Downey
Source: Paul Downey

When purchasing sea vegetables, look for tightly sealed packages. Available in different forms, choose ones that best fit your culinary needs. Sea vegetables should be stored in tightly sealed containers at room temperature, to maintain freshness and prolong shelf life for at least several months.

There is ongoing debate concerning the possibility of sea vegetables being contaminated with toxic or heavy metals. Considering their excellent ability to act like a sponge and absorb all the beneficial minerals in sea water, it seems plausible that they would also absorb all the negative compounds, such as mercury, lead and arsenic. Many studies have revealed the low probability of health risks from heavy metals via sea vegetable consumption. Only one type, Hijiki, is considered to be high-risk when it comes to arsenic exposure. Based on numerous studies, we recommend avoidance of hijiki unless available it’s certified organic (read more here).

Naturopathic physician Dr. Paul Gannon reveals how healthy, easy and delicious Asian cuisine is. Watch the video below to learn how to make a wakame (seafood) salad that your family and friends will enjoy.