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Natural and healthy living tips

Author: Ineke Junge (page 2 of 3)

Green health – growing wheatgrass

Green health – growing wheatgrass

Many of us have come across the green wheatgrass shots sold in juice bars and shops. They are not exactly cheap and neither are the freeze dried wheat grass powders often sold at the same outlets. Solution? Growing your own wheatgrass?

I’ve taken the plunge and got wheatgrass seeds to check out how easy this really is.

Below are the first ‘planting’ photographs. Keeping my eyes peeled for the first shoots to appear!

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Cultured celery

A super fast crunchy cultured celery batch

Chop up a bundle of celery stalks into small bits.*

Submerge into a brine solution of approximately a full teaspoon of Himalayan or Celtic salt dissolved into filtered water to fill about half a clamp jar. Add some slices of rind free lemon (use (organic) rind for baking or flavouring elsewhere or freeze for later use), a big clove of garlic and some black pepper corns. Add about a quarter of a cup of whey but keep below 2 cm from top. Should you have too much brine, decanter to allow for the whey to be added.

Keep the ingredients submerged by topping of with a cabbage leaf or in this case a leek’s leaf and e.g. an egg cup. Close the lid, store in a warm-ish place and burp twice a day leaving to rest for the first day. The colder the storage, the longer the fermentation process.

The cultured celery should be ready after 3-5 days, depending on room temperature. I like it quite tangy and tend to leave it a longer.

 * use clean utensils and keep free from contaminants (including soap) as that would affect the (non) fermentation 

 

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Healthy bacteria

As this batch fermented super-fast because its position above the central heating, a thin film of healthy white bacteria is floating on top (the bigger pieces are the celery). This is a not something to worry about!!! Green or black fungus is not OK and in that case the batch should be thrown out.

 

Bicarb and Salt

There are a multitude of articles on hypertension and salt consumption. Some of these claim that salt is one of the causes of hypertension, others publish warnings that salt should not be used when suffering from this condition. The medical fraternity has conflicting opinions on the subject and new research shows that salt isn’t actually a serious threat except in cases of super high hypertension. A really controversial topic and it becomes even more complex when we start looking at other salts but ordinary table salt. Salts that contain additional trace minerals. Salts like Himalayan and Celtic sea salt. The discussion can get heated and insults are thrown around on blogs and forums. Silly actually, as science changes all the time or rather, we discover new things all the time. What may stand today may not stand tomorrow.

Spending some time on this today I was curious to find out if baking soda would have an effect on people suffering from hypertension as both baking soda (NaHCO3) and salt (NaCl) contain sodium.

Reason why I investigated this is because baking salt-less or low salt, definitely compromises taste and flavour. This could be circumvented by using more baking soda without affecting blood pressure.

I found the following article from 1990 to prove my point. The clinical trial consist of tests done in normal and hypertensive men from two racial groups. Please note that the latter has nothing to do with the point I am trying to prove although I found the results very interesting and worthwhile spending perhaps some time on in the future from a biological perspective.

 

J Hypertens. 1990 Jul;8(7):663-70.

Sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride: effects on blood pressure and electrolyte homeostasis in normal and hypertensive man.

To test the hypothesis that NaCl and NaHCO3 have divergent effects on blood pressure, we carried out a randomly allocated, placebo-controlled, crossover trial in 10 mildly hypertensive and 10 normal subjects. They ingested a fixed daily basal diet of 60 mmol sodium and chloride, 60 mmol potassium and 14 mmol calcium. After balance was achieved (4 days), the subjects were randomly assigned to drink 3 liters/day of a NaHCO3-containing mineral water (26.2 mmol/l sodium and 33.03 mmol/l HCO3) or a control solution containing equimolar amounts of cations as the chloride salt for 7 days (total daily sodium 138 mmol). All urine was collected. Blood pressure was determined by an automated device. One month later the opposite regimen was followed. NaCl did not influence blood pressure, whereas NaHCO3 decreased systolic blood pressure (by 5 mmHg) in the hypertensive subjects. Both regimens decreased plasma renin activity in the hypertensive subjects but did not consistently influence plasma aldosterone or catecholamines. However, urinary calcium excretion, which was greater in hypertensives than in normotensives, and greater in white than in black subjects, increased consistently with NaCl but not with NaHCO3. The excretion of urate was not influenced by the regimens; however, urate excretion was consistently greater in whites than in blacks. The data show that NaCl increases calcium excretion whereas NaHCO3 does not, even at modest levels of intake. NaCl and NaHCO3 may therefore differ in their effects on blood pressure

A ‘tiny’ wine cocktail

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If you just want to have a little wine with a difference and make it last, this is a lovely way of consumption.

A handful of frozen raspberries in a triple size shot glass, fill up with a little wine, a dash of cinnamon or powdered ginger for a bigger kick. Sip and enjoy 🙂 !

‘Mud&Bits’ bread

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This ‘Mud&Bits’ bread has grown on me in a unreal way.  I got a recipe from a friend a while ago and have subsequently been playing around with it.

Fun to change the added bits every time you make this super-fast recipe. It won’t take you more than about 12 minutes to throw it all together and baking time is 45-50 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius. I love to eat it hot, straight from the oven or as bread when cooled down.

This is the way to eat bread, wholesome, healthy and loads of vitamins and minerals!

 

Mud&Bits Bread

Mud&Bits Bread

What’s in it?

Organic produce like spelt flour, bananas, eggs, himalayan salt, bicarb of soda, blackstrap molasses, oats, carrots, raisins and a shake of cinnamon. The bits can be inter- and exchanged and this recipe happily allows for a handful or two of nuts or seeds of your choice. Lovely to have just on its own or with some butter or otherwise a slice of cheese if you like the savoury/sweetish combo flavour.

Herewith an approximate list of nutrients for the right quantities – please note we are talking averages, depending on origin:

Spelt flour +- 150-170 g energy approx 1820 kJ / 360kcal / carbs 85 g / protein 20 g / negligible fat / sodium negligible / calcium 60 mg / iron 6 mg / potassium580 mg / Vit B1 1 mg / B2 0.3 mg / B3 5 mg

 

Yum, just finished the slice in the picture 🙂

 

 

 

Which contains more hormones – milk or water? Pending research

Cinnamon – health benefits

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Being an avid cinnamon user and having loved this spice my whole life, I would like to share my findings from the last few years and I have thus merged a few articles on cinnamon posted on Livestrong.com.  I found them to be informative and well written. The contents below will supply you with basics of the nutritional and medicinal benefits (and warnings) of cinnamon.

Observation of old-fashioned food combinations shows, people have consciously or subconsciously been using cinnamon as’ medicine’ to reduce the effects of sugars and carbs. The use of cinnamon in stews, sauces, deserts and on sugary biscuits not to mention buns and breads is widespread and part of culinary kitchens world-wide.

Cinnamomom cassia/Cinnamomom aromaticaum versus Cinnamomum zeylanicum/Cinnamomum verum

Cinnamon is a sweet, aromatic spice and a medicine. It is one of the oldest spices known to man. Its uses and benefits have been documented as early as 2700 B.C. throughout China, Europe and Egypt. Most cinnamon sold in the United States and Europe is the cassia variety, which is often labeled as Chinese cinnamon. Its scientific name is Cinnamomom cassia, also known as Cinnamomom aromaticaum. Ceylon cinnamon, which is native to Sri Lanka, is more difficult to find and more expensive. Its scientific name is Cinnamomum zeylanicum, and it is also known as Cinnamomum verum — “verum” means “true.” You may have to go to a specialty gourmet store or upscale food market to find it. Cinnamon offers anti-clotting and anti-microbial benefits, boosts brain function and contributes to a healthy colon.

Benefits of Cinnamon

Both types of cinnamon have been studied for their health benefits. In a 2012 study published in the “International Journal of Preventive Medicine,” diabetic patients were given 3 grams of an unspecified cinnamon supplement per week or a placebo. At the end of eight weeks, the test subjects experienced improvements in blood sugar and triglycerides, and they lost weight compared with the placebo group. A 2012 review article published in “Diabetic Medicine” examined 16 studies of Ceylon cinnamon specifically. The researchers uncovered beneficial effects on diabetic complications, with no toxicity to the liver and kidneys. Toxicity might, however, be an issue for cassia.

According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, seasoning a high-carbohydrate food with cinnamon helped lessen its impact on participants’ blood sugar levels. Part of the reason that high-carbohydrate meals increase blood sugar quickly is because they are emptied rapidly by the stomach. Cinnamon reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating because it slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals.

Cinnamon may work in another way to help lower glucose levels. It appears to bring blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes to normal by improving their cells’ ability to respond to insulin. This occurs due to the ability of compounds in cinnamon to stimulate insulin receptors. In addition, these compounds inhibit an enzyme that inactivates insulin receptors, so cells are better able to use glucose effectively. The general consensus is that consuming approximately 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon daily is effective.

Important Differences

Ceylon cinnamon has a sweeter, more delicate flavor than cassia does, which may make it preferable for flavoring desserts and lighter dishes. But the more important distinction may be the presence of a chemical called coumarin, a natural plant chemical that acts as a blood thinner. This chemical is present in much higher concentrations in cassia than in Ceylon cinnamon. It is contraindicated for anyone taking prescription blood thinners. Coumarin has also been shown to be toxic to the liver and kidneys, and it may also be carcinogenic, which can negate any health benefits of cinnamon.

Other Benefits of Ceylon Cinnamon

In addition to its potential beneficial effect on glucose metabolism and body weight, Ceylon cinnamon also contains antioxidant compounds called proanthocyanadins. These are similar to the antioxidant compounds found in green tea and grapes. Coumarin-free Ceylon cinnamon may also be beneficial to the liver, according to studies reviewed by “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine” in 2013, with no adverse effects to other organ systems. Other benefits may be antimicrobial and anti-parasitic activity, digestive health and blood pressure reduction.

Opt for Ceylon over Cassia

It is probably OK to use smalls amount of cassia occasionally. But if you are a daily user, it pays to seek out Ceylon, or “true” cinnamon. Even if you do choose the Ceylon variety, more is not necessarily better. Use it in moderation for culinary and medicinal purposes, and monitor any health conditions with your physician. Some bottles of powdered cinnamon may not specify which type it is. Usually Ceylon will be labeled. If you have unlabeled, whole cinnamon sticks — which are actually the plant bark — the rolled bark of Ceylon cinnamon will be thinner and multilayered compared to the thicker bark of cassia.

Inflammation and Bacteria

Three components found in the essential oils of cinnamon bark that offer health benefits include cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate and cinnamyl alcohol. Cinnamaldehyde works against harmful blood platelet clotting, which can result in inadequate blood flow. It accomplishes this by inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid (a fatty acid responsible for the inflammatory response) from cell membranes. Thus, cinnamon is beneficial for any condition that causes inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Because they are anti-microbial, cinnamon extracts may help stop the growth of harmful bacteria or fungi, such as those that are responsible for candida, or yeast infections. As a powerful anti-bacteria agent, cinnamon may have applications in food preservation, protecting against microbial overgrowth of certain food borne pathogens.

Brain and Gut Health

Some research suggests that the aroma and flavor of cinnamon acts as a cognitive stimulant, possibly improving working memory, visual-motor speed and virtual recognition memory. Positive early results have encouraged researchers in the area of Chemoreception Sciences to see if cinnamon may be beneficial for slowing or alleviating age-related cognitive decline.

Cinnamon is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese and a very good source of dietary fiber, iron and calcium. Calcium and fiber are a powerful combination. They both bind to bile salts and remove them from the body. These bile salts have a reduced ability to damage colon cells, decreasing the risk of developing colon cancer. Since cinnamon is rich in dietary fiber, it may also provide relief from constipation.

Electrolytes – creating your own solution using blackstrap molasses and Himalayan salt

The need we have to top up on electrolytes quickly is when we exercise or when we are sick/have diarrhea and there is a sudden loss of electrolytes due to sweating or loss of fluid through excess excretion. This is where people often use energy drinks or get an electrolyte solution from their GP. A solution like that is easy and cheap to make yourself by mixing blackstrap molasses and himalayan salt in water and to make it really stick add some of the juice of fermented vegetables to get your good gut bacteria going again.

It’s clear to see why when you look at the nutrients list.

A recipe will be posted soon on how to create your booster as well as creating a power drink!


Blackstrap molasses

See my previous article; my research so far has unfortunately shown that there is no standard nutrients content as there are vast differences between different brands and sources.

Overall, molasses contains a number of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorous, chromium, cobalt and sodium. It offers various vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamine and riboflavin.

The information contents below is taken from the Livestrong.com website:


What Are the 84 Minerals in Himalayan Salt?

What Is a Mineral?

Himalayan salt is said to contain 84 minerals that are good for your health. However, not all of the ingredients in Himalayan salt are technically minerals; some, such as hydrogen and oxygen, are elements but not minerals. Spectral analyses done on Himalayan salt show that it contains both macrominerals, such as calcium and chloride, as well as trace minerals including iron and zinc.

Where Himalayan Salt Comes From

Himalayan salt is mined from the Khewra Salt Mines in Pakistan, situated at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is the second-largest salt mine in the world, and official records of the Khewra mine date back to the 13th century. The salt obtained from Khewra includes transparent, white, pink, red and dark red salts. Today the mine includes nearly 25 miles of tunnels stretched across 11 levels, and runs almost a half mile into the mountains.

Macrominerals and Trace Minerals

Himalayan salt contains the minerals that are necessary for your health, including macrominerals and trace minerals. The macrominerals are needed in relative abundance and include calcium, chloride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. The recommended daily amount of these macrominerals depends of your age, activity level and general health. Calcium is the most common mineral in your body and is found in your bones and teeth, as well as playing a vital role in nerve and muscle health. Trace minerals are needed in small amounts for health, and those found in Himalayan salt include boron, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. Other minerals in Himalayan salt include aluminum, carbon, platinum, selenium, sulfur and titanium.

Health Benefits

Himalayan pink salt is sold as a gourmet salt for use in cooking and adding at the dinner table. Because of its minerals content, Himalayan salt is considered healthier than regular table salt, which often has additives, such as the anti-caking agent sodium ferrocyanide. The need in human nutrition for many of the minerals found in Himalayan salt remains unknown, and many of the minerals are found only in minute quantities. Himalayan salt contains some minerals that are toxic in large quantities, including lead and plutonium, but which are safe in trace amounts.

The Meadow lists elements found in Himalayan salt in addition to sodium and chloride. In alphabetical order, they are: actinium, aluminum, antimony, arsenic, astatine, barium, beryllium, bismuth, boron, bromine, cadmium, calcium, carbon, cerium, cesium, chlorine, chromium, cobalt, copper, dysprosium, erbium, europium, fluorine, francium, gadolinium, gallium, germanium, gold, hafnium, holmium, hydrogen, indium, iodine, iridium, iron, lanthanum, lead, lithium, lutetium, magnesium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, neodymium, neptunium, nickel, niobium, nitrogen, osmium, oxygen, palladium, phosphorus, platinum, plutonium, polonium, potassium, praseodymium, protactinium, radium, rhenium, rhodium, rubidium, ruthenium, samarium, scandium, selenium, silicon, silver, sodium, strontium, sulfur, tantalum, tellurium, terbium, thallium, thorium, thulium, tin, titanium, uranium, vanadium, wolfram, yttrium, ytterbium, zinc and zirconium

Slow-juicing

Slow-juicing is just a great way to up your daily intake of vitamins and minerals out of fruits and veggies. Instead of reaching for the supplement bottle you can get a good dose of all you need from incorporating freshly juiced juices into your daily diet.

Supplements may be handy at times but they are still limiting and cannot replace what God has created for us to enjoy.

Many argue this point saying that currently grown fruit and veggies do not have the nutrients they had 50 years ago. Maybe, maybe not but those are stats. One could argue that bottled supplements hardly ever contain the nutrients the label on the bottle says they should have. Some brands are  better than others but all pills and capsules have fillers that we don’t need. Supplements also consist mainly of the so called ‘active ingredient’ with some supporting nutrients added at times. Yet, never will they contain a full range of supporting nutrients as found in nature.

One of my favourite juices is made with three ingredients only and can be changed just by adding one or two other fresh ingredients (optionally taking out fennel as the flavour of aniseed does not always mix well with other fruits)

1 glass of my favourite is made with about:

60, 70 grams of carrots;
60, 70 grams of fennel and;
1 apple (120-140 grams). Deliciously fresh and thirst quenching! Adjust quantities to suit your taste.

Variations to this could be, adding:

1 large piece of about 100, 120 grams of peeled cucumber. This waters down down the flavour but great for hydration;
Some green stuff like a hand full of spinach;
A thick slice of ripe pineapple;
A handful of berries

Play around and make it fun. Consider what you will be eating at meal-times and whatever nutritional shortages there are, top up different foods in a juice. Eating spinach and cauliflower, have some orange-coloured juice. Eating carrots and salads for dinner, add a hand of kale to your juice.

Look up what nutrients there are in different veggies and fruits, what your body needs and balance out accordingly. It does take time to learn but in the end your body will be grateful for it!

Ten health benefits of sugar cane juice

I have done quite a bit or research on sugar cane juice and the opinions vary incredibly; from the ‘NO’ against all sugars to a big ‘YES’ to this sweet delight. The article below is easy to read and is taken from The Daily Observer of 21st October 2016. I have taken out some passages I am not in agreement with and what remains may need some more research but I do think that the whole anti-ALL sugar campaign is getting out of hand and people should lighten up a little. Eat fresh and healthy food without hidden sugars, preservatives, colourants and you CAN enjoy a glass of sugar cane juice, fruit and a little healthy sugar. All things in moderation!

1. The reason behind sugar cane being a popular drink during summers is because it gives an instant kick of energy and quenches the thirst. Sugar cane juice is good source of glucose which as we know, helps to re-hydrate the human body and gives it a boost of energy. So instead of your artificial energy drink, the next time you feel fatigued or dehydrated, consider drinking a glass of cane juice.

2. Even though cane juice tastes very sweet and has high sugar content, it is good for diabetic patients. It contains natural sugar which has low glycemic index that prevents steep rise in blood glucose levels in diabetics, so it can act as a substitute of aerated drinks for them. However people with Type-2 diabetes should consume it in moderation and after consultation with their doctors.

3. Sugarcane juice is considered an alkaline forming food because of the high concentration of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese in it.

4. Taken in a diluted form, with lime juice and coconut water, sugar cane juice helps in reducing the burning sensation which is commonly associated with urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, kidney stones and prostatitis.

5. The antioxidants in sugarcane juice help to fighting against infections and boost the immunity system of the body. It also protects liver the liver against infections and helps in keeping the bilirubin levels in control. This is the reason that doctors advice drinking sugar cane juice to jaundice patients, as it is one of the few things that get digested without too much pressure on the liver and also helps in reducing the bilirubin levels.

6. Sugar cane juice also acts a good digestive aid due to the presence of potassium. It helps in keeping the digestive system in good shape, prevents stomach infections and is considered to be particularly useful in treating the problem of constipation.

7. Studies show that sugarcane juice protects against tooth decay and bad breath due to its high mineral content. So save yourself the next trip to the dentist and drink a glass of fresh sugarcane juice to get shiny white teeth.

8. Deficiency of nutrients in the body can easily be noticed by looking at the health and condition of your nails. If you have brittle discolored nails that have white spots on them, then it’s time to add sugar cane juice in your diet.

9. Sugarcane juice has been discovered to be great for those people who are struggling with febrile disorders. Febrile disorders are accountable for resulting in fevers, which can lead to seizures and loss of protein in the body. It is quite common in infants and children. Sugar cane juice helps in compensating the lost protein and helps in recovery.

10. When it comes to healthy skin, alpha hydroxy acids are supposed to have a lot of benefits. They fight acne, reduce blemishes, prevent ageing and help in keeping the skin hydrated. One of the most effective alpha hydroxy acids is glycolic acid and sugar cane, is one of its few natural sources. Just apply sugar cane juice to your skin and let it dry or add it to your favourite face mask and scrub. Use it regularly to see the effect.

While the advantages of sugar cane juice are many, it is essential to ensure that it is extracted in a hygienic manner. It’s also important to use and consume the juice as soon it extracted because it tends to get oxidized within 15 minutes

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