Seven Environmental Documentaries to Watch Now

Seven Environmental Documentaries to Watch Now

For all the curious Earth and nature-lovers out there, here’s a list of fantastic films that showcase the wonder of our world while discussing some of the most important issues of our times, and - perhaps most importantly - what can still be done. If you don’t already have a good reason to start practising a more eco-friendly lifestyle, you may find it on this list.

Blue, Directed by Karina Holden

Named for the way our planet looks from space, this documentary is about the most important life-giving force on earth: namely, our oceans. What once was imagined to be a vast, inexhaustible resource is now starting to show the strain of half a century of widespread industrial fishing and pollution. Exactly how much trouble are our oceans in and what can be done to avert a total collapse? Watch this startling film to find out.

Chasing Coral, Directed by Jeff Orlowski

Coral is the “rainforest” of the ocean: a place where some of the highest number of species exist together. Just like the Amazon, our planet’s corals are also in serious peril. This movie doesn’t just talk about the bleaching of the Great Barrier reef, however: it also captures the jaw-dropping beauty of these spots and offers the possibility that it might not be too late to save our corals.

Plastic China, Directed by Jiuliang Wang

This shocking story follows a family living next to a plastics recycling plant in China. With vivid imagery, you’ll see just how much of this stuff we’re dealing with not only in China, but on Earth as a whole. Spoiler alert: it’s not going away any time soon.

The Age of Consequences, Directed by Jared P. Scott

If you know people who won’t change their ways with traditional arguments about climate change, this might be the documentary to show them. Featuring political leaders like Madeline Albright, the story focuses on the politically and economically destabilising consequences of extreme weather and other by-products of climate change. The spectre of mass migration and war is just one of the reasons provided by this film for all of us to take action before it’s too late.  

The True Cost, Directed by Andrew Morgan

How do fast-fashion powerhouses like H&M get their clothes to stores so cheaply? While many of us may have a vague idea about “sweatshops”, this doco takes the viewer on an unflinching journey through the lifespan of trendy clothes. Follow this season’s fashions from the runway through your closet and finally into the rubbish bin. Watch it and you may never be able to enter a cheap clothing store without thinking about the dark side to our throwaway clothing culture.

Before the Flood, Directed by Fisher Stevens

If you want eyewitness testimony to how climate change is affecting every corner of the globe, look no further than this timely documentary. Possibly most famous because it was produced by US film superstar Leonardo DiCaprio, the film deserves to be taken seriously on its own merits. The footage took over three years to film across dozens of countries. Besides discussing the problem, Before the Flood also does something crucial: it outlines concrete steps that can be taken to help build the social and political will it will take to avert climate disaster.

The Breakthrough in Renewable Energy, Directed by Martijn Kieft

Although it’s not exactly creatively titled, if you’re looking for something with a slightly more upcast tone, this doco by Netherlands group is a great way to end this list. It’s all about the growing viability of renewable energy. You see, the main barrier - that of economic cost - is finally shifting away from traditional non-renewables like coal and gas and politicians are taking notice! Among other nations, Australia’s journey towards a more earth-friendly tomorrow is featured.  

 Author: Natalie Millis

Author: Natalie Millis

 

Medical Miracles: Learn About the Superfood that is Reishi Mushrooms

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Medical Miracles: Learn About the Superfood that is Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms have been a mainstay of Japanese and Chinese traditional medicine for thousands of years. Traditionally, Reishi (or Mannetake in Chinese) has been used to boost the immune system, fight cancer, cleanse the liver and even promote sleep. The name “Mannetake” even roughly translates to “mushroom of immortality”. Several decades ago, the possible healing capabilities of this powerful fungus finally caught the attention of Western doctors, who undertook studies to see what medicinal benefits could be proven. Meanwhile, Reishi mushrooms have started to be used by people interested in holistic medicine all over the world. So, how do Reishi mushrooms stack up against the hype?

 

The answer is that science has proven these amazing mushies to have some incredibly promising properties! Over 130 active compounds have been found to exist in Reishi’s spores. Some of the earliest research done explored this extract’s anti-cancer properties. It turns out the active compounds that occur naturally in the Reishi species have powerful anti-tumour and anti-cancer properties. Studies have proved especially promising for both breast cancer and prostate cancer, specifically. Later research built on this work validated what ancient healers already knew: Reishi is great for the immune system overall. In fact, the powerful immune-boosting power it has may be in part responsible for its anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and other healing benefits. Reishi also has strong anti-inflammatory effects; a recent study helped vindicate another traditional use of the mushroom as a liver-healing agent and it’s also being investigated as a supplement to protect the brain from age-related damage. If these uses weren’t enough, Reishi also interacts with the central nervous system to act as a gentle anti-anxiety agent, which can also help with sleep.

 

Reishi fits into an increasingly well-documented understanding of the powerful healing power contained in many kinds of mushrooms. Like Reishi, other medically-useful mushrooms contain a large number of bio-active compounds. As with other natural medicines, part of the healing power of mushies may come from the combination and interaction of all of these compounds at once. So whichever reason you’re interested in harnessing the healing powers of Reishi or other mushrooms, it’s important to find a quality wholefood supplement that harnesses their full potential! Look for a product made from a powder or oil from the whole spores, as this part contains the full complement of Reishi’s large number of beneficial bio-active compounds. Finally, a quick disclaimer: if you’re being treated for any medical condition, don’t forget to let your G.P. know that you’re taking Reishi-containing supplements.

 

 Author: Natalie Millis

Author: Natalie Millis

 

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Hemp and the new Australian Legislation: What You Need to Know!

Hemp and the new Australian Legislation: What You Need to Know!

In Australia, the sale of hemp has now been fully legalised. Previously, hemp ingredients were only legal in personal care and cosmetic products. So what does this new legislation mean for you? Game-changing access to a nutritional powerhouse, that’s what!

So why was hemp illegal in the first place? The stigma around hemp comes from people using the terms “hemp” and “marijuana” interchangeably. In reality, hemp and marijuana are actually two different plants! Under the new law, marijuana is still illegal, but we finally have access to the incredibly versatile and useful hemp plant. To straighten out the confusion, it’s important to understand that hemp is related to marijuana, but has almost no THC, which is the active component in marijuana. This means that if you smoke hemp, you’ll just get a headache – and lawmakers have finally understood that there is no reason to associate hemp with psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana.

The hemp plant itself is a good fit for Australia’s interior climate. Hemp uses less water than many other crops, is drought-tolerant, and restores vital nutrients to the soil. The plant is also extremely fast-growing, meaning that multiple harvests can be made in a year. Its tough, fibrous leaves can be used for a remarkable number of purposes, including paper, clothing, and even plastics or bio-fuels! Now that the sale of hemp is fully legal, it opens the door for farmers to participate in a budding industry that is worth some $1 billion globally.

The most useful part of the plant, however, may be its seeds. The seeds are found at the base of the plant and resemble small nuts. They have an agreeable, nutty flavor and can be used whole or milled. So what’s the big deal? Hemp seeds are truly a nutritional powerhouse! Besides packing as much (or more) protein as soy and beef, on a gram-to-gram basis, they are a complete amino acid source, making it an ideal vegan protein substitute.  

Hemp is an edestin-based protein which is highly bioavailable, meaning your digestive system can digest its nutrients easily. Not only that, but the fibre content of hemp is comparable to flax and chia seeds and they are possibly the best plant-based source of healthy Omega-3 fats that researchers have found to date.

As hemp is cold pressed and therefore undergoes minimal processing (no chemical or acidic extraction processes are used in isolating the protein molecules), the balance of Omegas 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids are maintained. These fatty acids have important roles in healthy brain, lung and eye development; and play a role in heart health and immune function. Not only this, but hemp contains GLA, a source of omega 6 that is hard to come by and is touted for its anti-inflammatory properties.     

Hemp naturally retains its magnesium, iron, zinc and vitamins B1 and E and the seeds, meal and oil are popular in baked goods, smoothies, sauces and even beer. Hemp is naturally gluten-free and suitable for those on a paleo diet.  

Ultimately, the legalistion of hemp means that we will now have a new source of plant-based protein that is healthy and more environmentally sustainable. Like other plant-based products, the nutrients found in hemp seeds will degrade if put through heavy processing. If you’re looking to get the most out of these amazing seeds, look for hemp products that are cold-pressed or otherwise minimally processed, and don’t contain other ingredients. Now that the stigma has been lifted, support local farmers and improve your own diet with one of these amazing hemp products today.   

 Author:  Natalie Millis

Author:

Natalie Millis

 

Hot Reading List - Vitality Tribe’s Top Picks for April

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Hot Reading List - Vitality Tribe’s Top Picks for April

It happens to everyone sometimes— getting stuck in a rut, experiencing a prolonged period of  feeling “off”, or even struggling to find meaning and direction in life.  If you’re looking for inspiration, or maybe just a new perspective, check out our team’s top wellness reading picks!

The Optimized Woman - Miranda Gray

In modern times, women’s menstrual cycles have often been cast as a “weakness.” This book challenges women to reframe this view and reclaim their bodies from outdated, misogynistic narratives steeped in misunderstanding. The author suggests a new perspective, one that outlines ways to understand and use women’s natural hormonal cycles as a source of power. This book is two things: a celebration of menstrual cycles, and a how-to guide for to start harnessing the hormonal journey women go through every month to maximize potential in work, relationships, and life.  

 

The Universe Has Your Back - Gabrielle Bernstein

If you’re feeling empty, lost, confused, or just need some inspiration to really start living, pick this book up. Bernstein offers a mix of spiritual guidance and down-to-earth, actionable advice that can help all of us restore meaning and purpose in a world choked with social media, bad news, and isolation. Her compassionate and relatable prose is a treat to read, and you’ll walk away feeling calmer, braver, and ready to shed the fear or excuses that are holding you back from living your true potential.    

 

The Conscious Parent - Dr. Shefali Tsabary

There are a million “how to parent” books, but this is something different. Instead of talking about breastfeeding or sleep training, Dr. Tsabary explores the potential for spiritual development that parents can experience as they raise their children. A central part of the book’s narrative is how increasing self-awareness is the best way to break cycles of emotional pain that adults can unwillingly pass on to the next generation. Ultimately, it’s a convincing case for the way that heightened spiritual consciousness leads to healthier parents, happier children, and room for growth and compassion in everyone.    

 

Wheat Belly - Dr. William Davis

Rather than being a “diet” book, Wheat Belly is the story of an American cardiologist’s  observations about the standard western diet and its potentially catastrophic effects on our bodies. Arguing that modern wheat products are an over-processed, GMO-fueled, unnatural addition to our diet, Dr. Davis outlines his own professional experience with a healthy dose of readable science to back it up.  He was inspired to spread the message of giving up wheat after working with hundreds of patients who cut it out of their diets, resulting in nothing less than miraculous results. If you’re feeling “foggy”, tired, or have stubborn weight that won’t come off, Wheat Belly makes a convincing case for why giving up this ingredient could change your life.   

 Author:          Natalie Millis

Author:          Natalie Millis

 

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Trying to Make Healthy Choices? How to Survive Easter!

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Trying to Make Healthy Choices? How to Survive Easter!

Just when you were starting to see results from your New Year’s resolutions, along comes Easter to tempt you with chocolate bunnies and hot cross buns. Fortunately with a few tricks, it’s easy to have an enjoyable Easter without wrecking your blood sugar and dietary goals.

 

First of all, focus on non-chocolate related activities and gifts. Easter-egg bath bombs and birdseed eggs are both great choices for older kids or adults. Kid’s baskets can also be packed with small toys or accessories - think a mini-watercolor kit for your niece who loves to draw. Finally, dying hard-boiled eggs is one of the oldest Easter traditions and one you should keep up! Hard-boiled eggs make a fantastic (and portable) high-protein snack. When decorating, use natural or fruit-based dyes and plain wax so that you can have fun making patterns while keeping the eggs edible for later. For maximum safety, don’t forget to refrigerate cooked eggs (in their shells) within a few hours of making them! Hard-cooked eggs will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

 

Of course, every successful diet or lifestyle change needs to leave a little room for indulgence - it’s just important to keep it limited and to not go on an all-out binge. In fact, research has shown that diets with a little wiggle-room are actually more likely to succeed in the long term. So, if you’re going to eat a few Easter treats, do it right. The key is to plan your Easter around some simple high-quality chocolate instead of other Egg or Bunny-themed chocolates. Most store-bought chocolate contains sugar and fat, but high-cacao (dark) chocolate also offers some nutritional benefits, so choose dark chocolate for an antioxidant boost without going overboard on empty calories from sugar.

 

Why is the sugar found in Easter treats a bigger concern than fat? Between fat and sugar, research is emerging that sugar is by far more damaging to our bodies. Even non-diabetic people should keep sugar and simple carbs (that get converted to sugar in the body) in check to prevent taxing the body’s blood-sugar balancing capabilities. Keeping your blood sugar stable is a great way to protect your heart health, prevent extra fat from being deposited, keep mood swings at bay and even help reduce acne! Ditch white chocolate and high-sugar milk chocolate in favor of the dark stuff (try to aim for at least 70% cacao). These days, many health stores sell Easter-themed dark chocolate. If you’re looking for a way to jazz up your healthier choc choices into Easter-worthy treats, there are plenty of home-made recipes to help you out. Finally, choose dark chocolate over sugar-free chocolate. Although the ‘sugar free’ label may make it seem healthier, these products are highly processed and contain ingredients that may wreck your blood sugar anyway.

With these simple changes, it’s perfectly possible to have a healthy, enjoyable Easter. Remember, a bit of (dark) chocolate won’t wreck weeks’ worth of clean eating! So eat your high-cacao treats, make sure Easter Dinner has plenty of roast veg and focus on the non-chocolate related parts of the holiday.

 Author: Natalie Millis

Author: Natalie Millis

 

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The Power of Meditation

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The Power of Meditation

For thousands of years, cultures all over the world have used forms of meditation to promote inner wellness and healing. It turns out that our ancestors were on to something! Spiritual leaders, therapists, and scientists can now agree that meditation has real, quantified benefits for a variety of problems. Over the last few decades, research around meditation, the brain, and negative symptoms have shown some incredible effects.

 

MRI scans of active meditators have actually documented how meditation changes the brain. To put it simply, our brains have neurological pathways that physically change with our thought patterns. If you imagine consciousness as a wide open “field” that can be walked in any direction, repetitive thoughts actually wear neurological “paths” that act like shortcuts. If these thoughts are focused on pain/negativity/anxiety/etc, the brain may find itself treading down these shortcuts over and over again, because they are literally the path of least resistance. Meditation essentially helps the brain wear alternative trails in the “field”, making it easier to focus on positivity, calmness, or other objectives. Like exercise, the new pathways get stronger with practice.

 

This research has real-world consequences. In particular, pain doctors looking for alternatives to opiates and other narcotic medication have been exploring the power of meditation for their patients; meditation has now emerged as a legitimate treatment option. Studies have documented how mindfulness meditation in particular can actually reduce physical discomfort by changing neurological pathways. With instruction and practice, this type of meditation can be a useful way to ease pain or discomfort, especially in the case of chronic pain. Mindfulness training can physically help the brain dampen pain signals without the risks associated with heavy-duty pharmaceuticals; it can be used on its own or as a way to reduce reliance on pain medicine.

 

Besides its usefulness for pain, research has also shown that meditation is a proven way to help with:

  • PTSD and phobias

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Decreasing heart rate and blood pressure

 

If you’re looking to harness the incredible possibilities of meditation for your own brain, where should you start? There are literally dozens of types of meditation techniques for all skill levels. Some of the most popular (and accessible) techniques are mindfulness, active meditation, or guided meditation.

Mindfulness sounds deceptively easy: it involves learning to “sit with” and observe thoughts as they come in the moment. Instead of trying to control thoughts, mindfulness focuses on simply accepting things as they are in the present moment. Sometimes essential oils, cold water, or other environmental cues are used to help the practitioner stay focused.

Active meditation is like it sounds: it helps the practitioner focus on physical movement as a way to stay in the present moment. Walking meditation is most common, but other movement like yoga, running, or even gardening can serve the same purpose.

Guided meditation can be done with a teacher or at home with a podcast or app. Because there are prompts to help with focus, guided meditation is a great way for beginners to learn how to calm and quiet their minds.   

 

Whether you’re looking to address a specific concern or just want to increase your happiness, meditation is an incredibly powerful tool to add to your wellness arsenal. The best part is that it’s free and can be practiced anywhere; there’s no better time than now to try it out for yourself.

 Author: Natalie Millis

Author: Natalie Millis

 

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New Year, New You? Think Again! Learn the Right Way to Set Goals for the New Year

New Year, New You? Think Again! Learn the Right Way to Set Goals for the New Year

The new year is a great time to reassess your life and set new goals, right? Well, sort of. Studies have shown that more than half of people who made a resolution have given up only one month into the New Year! The problem is, it’s really tough to give up bad habits and overly-ambitious goals can quickly lead to a searing sense of failure. If you’re having trouble staying motivated, or don’t even know where to begin, it’s not too late to try again. To make your goals actually stick this year, try some of these tips and tricks from psychologists and successful business owners.

 

The S.M.A.R.T. method is a great way to structure your resolution(s). It was originally developed for businesses and organisations, but can easily be applied to personal goals, too. Remember that it’s also preferable to focus on one goal (or related goals like diet and exercise) instead of trying to change every area of your life at once!  

 

S: Specific. Is your goal clearly defined? Psychologists have found that without a specific target, it’s much easier to lose your way and give up. So get specific: replace “get fit” with “be able to complete a 5k run 3 months from now.”  

 

M: Measurable. Make sure there are clear milestones, or you won’t see your progress. Measuring progress is a crucial way to stay motivated. Think “drop 5kg by March” instead of “lose weight.” This will allow you to break up a bigger goal into smaller, do-able pieces. Mentally, this makes goals much easier to achieve.  

 

A: Attainable. This may seem obvious, but make sure that your goal is reachable. There is a difference between challenging yourself and setting yourself up for failure with an impossible objective. Even with the best training, you realistically can’t expect to be able to run a marathon two months from now if you’ve been sitting on a couch for the last year. If you’re set on an ambitious goal, it may be worthwhile to check in with a relevant professional (dietician, personal trainer, financial planner, etc).  

 

R: Relevant. Is the goal you’ve set something you’re doing for yourself, or for others? If you’re more worried about getting a magazine-worthy beach bod than improving your general physical health, you may find yourself discouraged. Take an inventory of why you’ve chosen this particular goal. Shallow reasons tend to be poor motivators in the long term.

 

T: Timely. Make sure your goal(s) has a specific timeframe. Without dates, it’s hard to keep track of progress, which means it’s hard to hold yourself accountable. Having deadlines is a huge benefit that will help you stick to your goals. It may help to tie your goal to natural deadlines: if you’re trying to get your finances organised, make sure it’s done a month before taxes are due. If you’re trying to change your diet, activity level, or other behavior for the long-term, schedule a time every day to briefly journal about your progress.

 

It may seem silly or excessive to follow such an extensive set of “rules” for your resolution, but this method has been backed up by behavioral scientists. The more specific structure you have, the more likely you are to stay on track. Finally, instead of quantity of goals, remember to focus on quality. Then get SMART and enjoy the results you desire!

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Author: Natalie Millis

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The Hidden Danger of Summer Suncream & Natural Alternatives

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We all know that protecting skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB radiation is crucial for preventing skin cancer and premature aging. But what if the suncream you are using for your beach holiday is also harming your health? The whole point of suncream is to protect your skin, not expose it to potentially dangerous chemicals! Besides the safety of the sun-blocking chemicals themselves, we also have to worry about other questionable ingredients that manufactures sneak in to make creams easier to apply or to preserve shelf life. Plus, if concern for your own health isn’t enough reason, some of these chemicals could also be hurting corals and marine life.  

 

One of the most dangerous (and common) chemical sun blockers is oxybenzone. In the laboratory, oxybenzone has been found to cause skin reactions and mimic hormones in the body, which may cause cancer. Scary stuff, right? Fortunately, natural alternatives do exist. Here are some of our favorite ways to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging effects without using ingredients with spotty safety records.

 

First of all, cover up! Using hats, sunglasses and long-sleeve shirts is the simplest way to avoid sun damage. Covering up doesn’t have to look matronly, either: sporting or surf stores often carry special sun shirts or wraps made of light-weight fabric that will keep you cool while protecting your neck, shoulders, and arms from the punishing summer sun. To make sure the fabric offers sun protection, look for a“UPF” rating on the label. Finally, take a cue from actresses like Nicole Kidman who protect their complexions with a chic wide-brimmed hat and large sunnies. If you’re on a beach holiday, consider bringing a large umbrella or other source of shade.

 

Zinc Oxide is a natural mineral (not a chemical) that physically blocks the damaging rays of the sun. It’s the go-to natural sunscreen for a reason: it has a great safety record and is one of the safest choices for kids and babies. Although it has a reputation for being thick or chalky, newer formulations have added other non-toxic ingredients like coconut oil that help with absorption. It’s also possible to find water-resistant/sweat-proof formulations, but don’t forget to re-apply every hour.

 

Titanium Dioxide is another mineral with similar properties and safety profile to Zinc Oxide. Its SPF value is not quite as high, so Zinc Oxide is still the better choice if you’re going swimming/running or doing another outdoor activity directly in the sun. Titanium Dioxide is, however, often found in natural face creams and foundations. To keep wrinkles away, use a daily face moisturiser or foundation with Titanium Dioxide while you’re working, running errands, or going out with friends. Your skin will thank you later.  

 

Shea butter is another safe choice if you’re going to be mostly covered up. Shea butter has amazing skin-healing properties, including reducing the look of wrinkles and spots. It’s also safe for all skin types, and has a low naturally-occurring SPF value, too. To make sure you’re getting the full benefits of shea butter, look for a label that says “unrefined”; it’s often available at your local health food store. Avoid creams that simply contain shea butter, as the characteristics of this healing compound are significantly reduced if it’s processed. Because it doesn’t have the high SPF rating of Zinc Oxide or chemical sunscreens, it’s best used alongside other sun protection measures like hats and long sleeves. Unrefined shea butter also makes a great after-sun balm for dry or irritated skin.  

Author: By Natalie Millis

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Açai Berries: What’s all the Hype About?

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Açai Berries: What’s all the Hype About?

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The popularity of Açai berry products has been growing for the last few years. If you’re considering making Açai part of your diet, learn what science has to say about this superfood—and how to get the best benefits for yourself!

Açai (pronounced “Ah-Say-Ee”) is a purple, olive-sized fruit that grows on a type of palm tree in the Amazon rainforest.  Açai has been traditionally used by indigenous people for a variety of health concerns and celebrated for its energy-giving, healing properties. Besides being packed with colorful phytonutrients that provide its record-setting antioxidant properties, Açai fruit is a source of healthy omega-3 fats and dietary fibre, too.

 

As knowledge of Açai fruit has gone mainstream, its benefits have been explored both as a health-boosting supplement and a skin-care ingredient. Research has focused especially on Açai’s possible usefulness in aiding weight loss, but other benefits of the fruit may include improvement of: immune system function, heart disease and high cholesterol, arthritis and other inflammation-related disorders. A promising study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2011[1] showed that subjects who took Açai pulp daily showed improvement in fasting levels of glucose, insulin and cholesterol - all important parts of healthy weight loss. Preliminary studies have also shown that Açai may help prevent tumors from being formed[2] and could even help kill cancer cells[3]. The same powerful antioxidant properties that make Açai such a superfood can also have brightening, wrinkle-reducing benefits when applied to the skin.

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Like many natural supplements, the benefits of Açai depend greatly on the quality of the product and packaging. When antioxidant properties of Açai were compared to other berries, fresh Açai had some of the highest scores recorded. This means Açai out-performed other nutritional powerhouses like blackberries, blueberries and strawberries! Unfortunately, the antioxidant power of Açai is seriously reduced if it is not processed and stored correctly. Improper storage and packaging can lead to a huge drop in the free radical “scavenging” capabilities, which translates into a reduction in health benefits[4]. This is why anyone who wants to experience the benefits of Açai should take the time to find a high-quality product. Flash-freezing the berry has found to be the best way to retain its nutrition; when Açai is transported fresh or in powdered form, its antioxidant properties actually drop below other berries! Therefore, to get the maximum benefit from this wonder food, a flash-frozen product is the best choice—unless you’re able to travel to the Amazon rainforest yourself.

 

Speaking of the Amazon rainforest, the recent popularity of Açai berries has been a mixed blessing for communities that have traditionally relied on the fruit as a staple food. In many areas, demand has raised prices significantly, making Açai more difficult for local people to buy. Therefore, investing in a fair-trade Açai product is an excellent way to get maximum health benefits for yourself while not harming the original discoverers of this miraculous superfood.


[1] https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-10-45

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25329001

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24886139

[4] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf0609779

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Author: Natalie Millis

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Post-Christmas Liver Recovery

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Post-Christmas Liver Recovery

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Your liver, roughly the size of a football (!!!) is our largest internal organ and is responsible for detoxifying your blood; producing the bile needed to digest fat; breaking down hormones and storing essential vitamins, minerals and iron. It has a number of other functions but in essence, one’s health, wellbeing and longevity are intricately entwined with a healthy-functioning liver.

 

For most people, constant exposure to environmental pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals put our liver under undue strain. Our day-to-day lives put us in constant exposure to toxins either orally, topically or via inhalation and once inside our body, these toxins get stored in tissues and cells. The consequences of toxic overload are far-reaching and there has been study after study on the accumulative effects of toxicity from chemicals, including cancerous, reproductive, metabolic, respiratory and mental health effects to name but a few.

Some of the signs you are in need of a liver cleanse include:

  • Constipation

  • Bloating

  • Gas

  • Nausea

  • Reflux / heartburn

  • Trouble digesting fatty foods

  • Halitosis (bad breath)

  • Food cravings

  • Headaches

  • Low energy and hypoglycaemia

  • Fatigue

  • Overheating and/or excessive perspiration

  • Aches and pains

  • Abdominal fat, unexplained weight gain or inability to lose weight

  • Allergies, skin rashes and acne

  • Mood swings, depression, poor concentration and a foggy brain

  • Hormonal imbalances, PMS and pronounced menopausal symptoms

In addition to these signs of liver malfunction, some of the risk factors related to impaired liver function include:

  • Heavy alcohol abuse

  • Intravenous drug use

  • Recurrent viral infections and autoimmune disease

  • Overuse of prescription medication

  • Blood transfusions prior to 1992

  • Exposure to certain industrial chemicals and environmental toxins (dyes, cleaning agents, nailpolish, petrol, smoke, etc)

  • Obesity and a heavily processed diet or one high in saturated fats

  • Tattoos and/or body piercings

  • High blood triglycerides

 So if you haven’t been giving your liver the TLC it needs or the festive season has taken its toll, consider a liver cleanse and notice changes in your body within a matter of weeks.   

 STEP 1: Tidy up your Diet and Lifestyle

Remove from your diet the following: packaged and processed foods, including foods with trans-fats; foods with colourings, additives or preservatives; gluten (incl. wheat), dairy and red meats; alcohol, soft drinks, packaged juices and caffeine; refined sugars and deli meats. Preferably you even cut out non-organic produce or if this is not an option, at least consider reducing foods from the “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables (a quick Google search will help you out here).

Substitute with fresh, preferably organic vegetables and some fruits; raw juices (to reduce overall acidity in your body) and depending on your physical activity levels, some organic proteins (the liver still needs protein in order to be able to detoxify).
Look carefully at your lifestyle and replace any known toxins with natural alternatives - think bathroom products, makeup and hair care products, laundry products, cleaning agents and so on. Consider exercising at times of the day when pollution levels are at their lowest (early morning) and reduce electrical exposure around the house.

 

STEP 2: Boost your Diet with Nutrient-rich Foods

Increase your intake of the following:

  • Raw vegetable juices: As mentioned, these reduce the overall acidity in your body.

  • Liver detox drinks (lemon, apple cider vinegar, ginger, cinnamon, grapefruit and aloe vera): A combination of any of the listed ingredients in purified water, sipped throughout the day, in order to promote increased digestive enzyme secretion and enhanced digestion.

  • Foods rich in potassium (sweet potatoes, organic tomato puree, spinach, beet greens, white/kidney/lima beans, molasses, avocados and bananas): This vital nutrient helps with liver cleansing, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and helps support a healthy heart.

  • Foods rich in sulphur compounds (organic eggs, garlic, onions, leeks, shallots) and cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts): Sulphur aids in phase II liver detoxification, whilst cruciferous vegetables assist both phase I and II detoxification.    
     

STEP 3: Supplementation  

The critical supplements to take during a liver cleanse include:

  • St Mary’s Thistle, or Milk Thistle: A beautiful herb for its liver regeneration properties

  • Globe artichoke or Dandelion root: Alternative herbs for liver detoxification

  • An antioxidant such as L-Glutathione, Alpha-lipoic acid, resveratrol or green tea or other polyphenol-rich compound: Assists in minimising free radical damage.

  • Activated charcoal: This substance has a drawing effect upon toxins in the body, though take it away from other foods or supplements as it will diminish the effect of other substances concurrently in the gut.


STEP 4: Other Ideas

Though there is a great deal more you could do in your cleanse, here are some final pointers:

  • Break a sweat every day to stimulate your circulation and lymphatic system, both important systems in detoxification.

  • Partake in dry skin brushing, again boosting your lymphatic and circulatory systems.

  • Take an epsom salt bath to assist detoxification.

  • Practise yoga as certain poses are known for their detoxification, digestive or circulatory effects.

  • Breathe deeply to encourage toxin elimination, boost circulation and drain the lymphatic system.

 

Even simply instigating just a few of these changes will have a marked effect on your health and biological markers, though if this Christmas was one of complete overindulgence, do your body a favour, plan well and start your cleanse without delay. And make sure you let us know about your new and improved self!

 

*Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional when conducting a liver cleanse, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or are on medication/s.

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Author: Samantha Kirton

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6 TIPS FOR A FOOLPROOF SUMMER

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6 TIPS FOR A FOOLPROOF SUMMER

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     6 Tips for a Foolproof Summer

Author: Samantha Kirton

With summer well and truly underway and pool parties and catch ups left, right and centre, here are some of my favourite summer wellness tips to keep you cool, hydrated and most of all, healthy.    


 

1. Make Your Own Insect Repellent

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Source images: https://unsplash.com/search/photos/essential-oils


Nothing spells summer more than a pesky mosquito that won’t leave you alone. With so many natural alternatives available, there really is no reason to reach for the can of chemical-ridden bug spray.

One of my favourite recipes that I’ve only just started using, but mimics a personal concoction that I have used for years is by Dr Axe.

Here’s Dr Axe’s recipe, adapted to how I make it:

Natural Insect Repellent (That Works!)   

Ingredients:

½ cup witch hazel (available from most health food stores, supermarkets or online)

½ cup apple cider vinegar

30 drops eucalyptus essential oil

30 drops geranium essential oil

20 drops citronella essential oil

20 drops lavender essential oil

(or a combination of any of the above essential oils, along with lemongrass, tea tree, lemon or rosemary essential oils, adjusted to preference or availability)

1 x 250ml spray bottle

Directions:

  1. Mix together witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and essential oils in a small jug.

  2. Pour into spray bottle and label. Keep out of reach of children and use as needed, avoiding contact with eyes and palms of hands (so as not to inadvertently rub your eyes).
     

If you’re not the DIY-type, you can always head to your nearest health food store to pick up a skin-friendly option.
 

2. Natural Sun Protection

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Though I’m going to keep this brief, sun protection obviously has an important part to play in the harsh Aussie climate. Aside from considering Vitamin D levels, nothing beats sun protection more than staying out of the sun. If you are going to venture outdoors, especially in the middle of summer, it’s imperative for the safety of your skin to preferably head out before the UV index reaches its peak between 10am and 4pm, though from personal experience, in summer, I can feel a burn between 8am and 5pm a lot of the time.

 

A nifty tool to check out is http://www.myuv.com.au/ . You simply input your location and it spits out the UV reading for the day. Basically, anything over a “3” warrants sun protection. This page gives you the time of day to use sun protection and can show you when the UV is at its peak.  

 

If you do choose to venture outdoors, there’s a plethora of natural sunscreens on the market and not all of them are greasy, so switch it up and start exploring some of the chemical-free options.

Otherwise the usual recommendations apply - covering up when you are in the sun, popping your sunnies on and wearing a hat.

Concerned about your vitamin D levels? Chances are, if you are reading this from Australia, you should be. Or at least in winter, you should be. In summer, the average person only needs a few minutes of sunlight per day, in every state, including our Tasmanian friends. Winter is a different story, though the majority of Australians aren’t actually vitamin D deficient (77%), despite common belief that deficiency is rife. For cities in line with Sydney and Perth and below, you’ll need to aim for 2-3 hours of sunlight per day, preferably in the middle of the day during winter, in order to reach your recommended vitamin D intake, though for more northern cities, you still only need a few minutes a day. Check out Australia’s most recent guidelines on vitamin D and sun protection here.       

 

3. Hydration & Natural Pick-me-ups To Beat The Sluggish Heat

With summer comes heat, humidity, parties, functions and all sorts different foods we wouldn’t normally eat. Not to mention alcohol. The result? A greater chance of dehydration. Though there are a host of benefits to staying hydrated, there are some real consequences to dehydration.

Some of the effects of not drinking enough water include:      

  • Fatigue, tiredness and a feeling of exhaustion

  • Constipation

  • Dull or dry skin

  • Puffiness or swelling

  • Joint pain or stiffness

  • Impaired elimination of toxins via the skin (with time, this can lead to premature wrinkling, dermatitis and psoriasis)

  • Premature aging

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Digestive disorders (including ulcers, gastritis and reflux)

You can probably remember at least one summer where you’ve experienced any number of these signs or symptoms. An easy way to combat dehydration is to keep a glass or bottle of water handy. Do whatever suits your style - sip on it throughout the day or aim for a glass an hour - whichever you’re more inclined to remember if you’re not already in the habit of drinking water.

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Spike up your water and give one of these taste-tempters a whirl

 

  • Sparkling water blended with 1 sachet Sambazon acai  
  • Raspberry, strawberry and basil with sparkling water (ideal for parties and get-togethers)
  • Peppermint iced tea with fresh mint leaves
  • Lemon, ginger and raw honey tea made with hot water and left to cool
  • Hibiscus iced tea (or in fact, any of your favourite teas, iced) 
  • Sparkling water with blueberries (or any of your favourite berries)
  • Flavoured water (try any combo of kombucha, sparkling or still water, fresh or frozen berries - including Sambazon acai, citrus slices (tangelo / orange / lime / lemon / grapefruit), fresh herbs or any other fruit that takes your fancy.

 

4. Boost Your Cooling Foods & Pack A Nutritional Punch!

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Lower your body’s core temperature in summertime by eating “cooling” foods, which have the bonus function of supplying you with an additional source of fluid  

 

Opt for the below goodies to cool you off this summer:

  • Cucumbers: Great in salads, as dippers with hommos or in your water or fresh juice

  • Watermelon: Straight out of the fridge or in salads, fruit salads or juices

  • Citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruits and oranges): Freeze for a healthy iceblock alternative, slice and eat fresh, add to salads or juice

  • Lettuce and leafy greens: Best eaten as a refreshing salad, smoothie or juice on a hot day!  

  • Strawberries, avocado, dates, figs, grapes, melons, pears and raspberries: Eat as a snack, or in smoothies, salads or main meals  

 

An alternative to sugar-laden ice-creams and ice blocks are Sambazon frozen acai packs  eaten straight from the pack! Our acai packs can always be made into delicious acai bowls or smoothies. What better way to embrace summer than with a massive nutrient hit?  
 

5.  Refresh & Renew

Christmas time is synonymous with parties, get togethers and functions, but that needn’t play a toll on your body. With some well thought out moves, you can head back into work and the new year with a spring in your step, rather than a drunken stumble.

Here are my suggestions for thriving (not surviving) the never-ending onslaught of activities at Christmas:

  1. Be picky.
    You can’t do everything so practice mindfulness and be selective. Need some help with turning “opportunities” down? Do yourself a favour and read Essentialism by Greg McKeon  

  2. Adding on to point 1 (above), only choose to attend activities you’d really love to be a part of.
    Life’s too short to be dragged across town to every invite you get. Choose only the best or those you really feel you have to attend. As a polite, G-rated version of my most favourite quote ever says Derek Sivers, TEDx speaker, “It’s either hell yeah, or no.” Read this one again and cement it into your memory, expletives added or not.   

  3. Decide ahead of time where you want to spend your time off - in bed recovering or out in the fresh air, making the most of the hot summery days. Once you’ve decided what’s worth nursing a hangover for, the rest of your choices should be easy.

  4. Do your own mini detox or day spa day. Or why not make it a week? Unplug, disconnect and get into the vibe of healthy living.

  5. Practice visualisation. Though it’s perfectly wonderful to have a break from it all and recharge the batteries, research shows that the effects of a holiday rarely last, yet the brain actually shows long-term change when you have programmed it with visualisations (in this case, of health and relaxation perhaps). This has its origins in neuroplasticity and is something that needs to be practiced, often. Give it a go, even if it’s just 5 minutes each day on waking. What better way to get into a habit than to start this this summer? Just make sure you set yourself up for success once work goes back by opting for an accountability buddy or perhaps a post-it note reminder if you’ve thrown your phone away for good! (Ha!)

 

If you were to just choose one of the above, I’m sure your experience of the new year would be one filled with ease and grace. Go on and give it a go!
 

6. Set An Intention For The Year

Every year, I set a new theme, intention, or phrase for the year ahead. I believe I first came across this concept from speaker and blogger Michael Hyatt  though I could be wrong…. Apologies to the original creator of the concept if I am.

Basically, I choose something that I want to align myself with for the coming year - single words work well for me, though phrases might work better for you, in which case, go for it!

Choose anything from one to say five words from the list below (or create your own words if they don’t appear on the list and they resonate more with you). (List courtesy of https://mindcore.cz/short-list-of-values/).    

 

Abundance              Fairness                     Order

Acceptance             Faith                            Passion

Achievement           Family                         Peace

Authenticity            Fitness                       Perseverance

Balance                    Freedom                   Quality

Bravery                    Friendship                 Respect for others

Care for others        Fun                            Responsibility

Commitment           Generosity                Security

Competence          Gratitude                 Self Respect

Contention              Harmony                  Self-Control

Cooperation           Honesty                    Serenity

Courage                 Humor                       Service to others

Creativity                Independence          Simplicity

Dependability        Innovation                 Spirituality

Discipline                Joy                            Stability

Diversity                 Kindness                   Success

Effectiveness          Knowledge               Teamwork

Empathy                 Love                             Well-being

Equality                  Loyalty                       Winning

Excellence              Openness                Wisdom

 

The idea then is to use these words on a daily basis - pop them wherever you are inclined to see them and then live by them to create the year that you have set out to achieve.

 

So there you have it - some of my favourite summer wellness tips. Hopefully they help you set the scene for a fantastic summer ahead!  

 

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Author: Samantha Kirton


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