If you love candles as much as I do, then you’ll enjoy this blog post. From easing your stress to improving your memory, burning a candle in your living or work space can have many benefits.
In the past a candle was a source of light, today a candle represents so much more.
It represents celebration, romance, meditation, and improves our mood and wellbeing.
A candle can instantly lift up any space by adding not just a beautiful fragrance, but also creates a soothing, calming environment.
The flicker of candlelight produces a lovely ambiance that simply cannot be replicated.
Lighting a few well-placed candles in your home can really create a cosy and intimate atmosphere.
Adding a candle here-and-there will create softness in your room and instantly make it feel warm and welcoming.
Candles are known for their soothing, healing properties and are often used by therapists, such as massage therapists, to create a peaceful ambiance in their therapy rooms.
The sheer act of lighting a candle, its lovely flicker and the gentle glow it creates, helps ease and soothe the mind.
Give it a try the next time you have a stressful day: light a candle, watch the flame and just breathe for a few minutes - even just 60 seconds can make a big difference.
Did you know that our sense of smell plays a key role when it comes to our psychological health?
That's one reason why scented candles have become so popular lately.
Lighting a candle in any corner of your home or office can bring you numerous health benefits.
On days that you are feeling a little low, burning a candle in your room can improve your mood.
The soothing fragrance of the candle works like an antidepressant.
The scent improves your mood, regulates your hormone levels, and also boosts your immunity.
You can pick citrus fragrances like lemon that are believed to improve mood.
Some scents are especially soothing. There are many calming scents that you can choose from such as:
Using scents to treat your mood is called aromatherapy. Several studies show that aromatherapy can certainly decrease your anxiety and improve your sleep.
Candles are a simple and stylish way that can help to improve your everyday quality of life.
Add them to any room in your house. The use of subtle colours add a soft touch to any space; or go with bright, bold colours to really make an impact.
They can also be very versatile, and come in a variety of styles and look wonderful in any room.
Bathroom candles provide a spa-like retreat, strategically placed candles throughout your living room make it cosy and calm, candles at the centerpiece of your dining room table keep romantic candlelit dinners within arms reach, and kitchen candles spark the atmosphere where we gather most often and can kill odours.
Use candles outdoors on your veranda or in your garden to create a magical, whimsical escape; and don’t forget to burn citronella candles to keep insects away.
Lighting a candle is an easy way to just take a couple of minutes from your hectic work or family schedule. You could light one in your bedroom, office and bathroom. Spend some time breathing in beautiful fragrances, and relax for that moment - recharging yourself for the rest of the day...
Mentioning hectic, office and work... did you know that lighting a candle can actually make you more productive by helping you achieve more focus.
Candles can also assist in improving your meditation or prayer practices. If you do practice meditation or prayer then lighting a candle in that particular room will help you to connect more deeply with your soul or to a higher power.
How about a little celebration and romance, grab your partner, light some candles and the rest I leave to your imagination !
When choosing candles, make sure they are made with real essential oils and soy wax which are soot free, non-toxic, burn clean, and last much longer than traditional paraffin ones which produce black soot and release toxic carcinogens into the air.
Whether you are treating yourself or friends, candles make perfect gifts and a nice treat to yourself!
I want you to close your eyes and picture this… You’re at a tea party and there is only one type of biscuit offered - how about one of my favourites like a dark chocolate coated oat cookie. How many would you have ? One ? Two ? Now picture another scene - you’re at another party and there are four different types of cookies. How many will you have? One of each? More?
Now let’s imagine something else. For your snack, you have a choice of eating apples OR a basic fruit salad ? Now picture something else, you find yourself at another event and the buffet is filled with a variety of fruits like berries, mangoes, pineapple, sliced sweet bananas, crunchy apples, nuts, cheese and those cute hors d’oeuvres… not to mention the prosecco or the gin and tonic … oooh and there’s more ! There is also a sit down dinner to a four course meal ! Now be brutally honest with your answer … Will you eat more of the apples, the basic fruit salad or will you walk away from the fancy event feeling stuffed ! ?
Yep ! I think you get the picture now. I may have exaggerated a little - but it happens to all of us to varying degrees.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that my clients who attend a lot of receptions, parties, and restaurants have more trouble losing weight than their eat-at-home counterparts. I always assumed the problem was the fattening nature of the food or the large portions you’re more likely to be served while out.
And while these may indeed be important issues, new research is indicating that the single most important factor causing excessive caloric intake, in other words eating way too much - may instead boil down to, too much variety.
One of the earliest quotes I heard my mother using was that “variety was the spice of life” ..
Wouldn’t it be ironic if one of the very things we hold dear – variety and freedom of choice among the diverse and expansive food supplies – is the very thing making us fat?
Our instinctual urge to eat a varied diet is important for health and was helpful during evolution. People who ate different types of food each day were – and are – more likely to obtain all the essential nutrients.
Infants embrace variety and when presented with a large array of different healthful foods will naturally select a well-balanced diet, according to a classic study from the early 1900’s. But today, because of the wide array of unhealthy, fattening food available, our attraction to dietary variety may be getting us into trouble. The scientific evidence has been building for decades.
Let’s pull out the rat study - because studies show that humans don’t react any differently to rats. When the rat’s regular diet is changed to a diet with a variety of choices, they eat more calories and gain weight.
In another study which set out to prove that when people were offered different shapes or flavours - they tend to eat more. In this case they used pasta, when the subjects were offered more than one shape of pasta in a bowl, they ate more than if there was just one shape I quote Susan B. Roberts a professor of nutrition at the Tufts University Medical School… She says - “Variety has an enormous passive effect on calorie intake” “The higher the variety of items you are confronted with, the more most people consume without even realizing it”.
Today’s variety is overwhelming and usually involves an array of high fat and calorie options, which studies show increased body fatness. (though, eating many different types of vegetable gets you skinny , but we too rarely benefit from this fact) “Variety creates torture,” - which at the end of the day - perhaps less is more.
Our instinctual urge to eat more is so ingrained in us that the only solution to overeating and weight problems is to limit our choices. This may be why rigid diets seem to work well – at least for a short while, – no matter what type they are, or why going to a health farm and spa where choices are limited, is such a relief for some people.
I mean if everyone in a Western country could move to an African village in the middle of nowhere, and trust me I have been there - everyone would be thin !
But let’s get back to reality, we’re not going to move to an African village or stay indefinitely at a health spa, so, what’s a person to do?
Well … there’s a couple of things you could do, to help you navigate through the world of variety
One of the easiest things to start with is by serving a variety of fruits and vegetables to your family and guests.. I bet you they’ll eat more healthy foods without even noticing it - especially if you have prepared a large platter with lots of different coloured fruits and vegetables.
I remember for my daughter’s birthday party - one of the center pieces was a large silver tray filled with carrot, cucumber and red, yellow and orange peppers cut into sticks. I would add cherry tomatoes, and grapes. Next to it would be some dips… I can say that it was one of the first things to go. And yes mummies, we did have cake, jelly and finger foods.
Another thing that you can do is to reduce the variety of fattening appetizers, side dishes, and desserts, no one will notice..
You can also control the food in your environment, since you’ll tend to eat whatever is accessible. Make sure a variety of fruits, vegetables and healthy foods are more easily available.
A client of mine introduced me to a company that delivers fresh fruits and vegetables that are also chopped up and ready to eat.
So no excuses ! If you don’t have the time to prepare it yourself - order it online and get it delivered.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, you can use lots of herbs, spices, colourful fruits and vegetables by eating the colours of the rainbow - and thinking outside the box by playing around with texture, shapes and colours.
For example you could try making zucchini noodles with pesto or a marinara sauce. If you feel like something comforting you could have some chicken with carrot or cauliflower mash.
Then there’s the social life - restaurants - perhaps before you go to a restaurant, check out their menu online and make your choice ahead of time so that you’re not tempted by the fattening array of choices once you’re there.
And last but not least when you go grocery shopping - do so with a list and stick to it 97% . I always give myself that 3% to buy the odd less healthy foods which make life a little sweeter ! Like I always say, life has it’s zigs and zags - as long as there are more zigs than zags - we are on the right path !
While the idea that ‘variety is the spice of life’ does not apply to promoting healthy diets and weight control across the board, we may still find that variety is good if we apply it to fruits, vegetables and other single ingredient foods !
This can be an extremely frustrating experience especially when you feel you are trying really hard to lose weight and you are not achieving your desired results. It, may be as simple as a couple of tweaks and changes to your exercise and eating habits which will get you to achieve your weight loss goals.
Below are mentioned the 18 common mistakes that people do when it comes to losing weight:
#1: The Dreaded Weight Loss Plateau. – Don’t panic ! It is incredibly common for the scale not to budge for a few days (or weeks) at a time. This does not mean that you are not losing fat. Your weight tends to go up and down by a kilo and it all depends on the foods you are eating, hormones and water retention.
Another popular reason is that you most probably gained some muscle mass especially if you started exercising. Which is a good thing as we want to lose body fat and gain a little lean muscle. It’s a good idea to check your progress by measuring your body fat percentage and of course don’t forget to use your skinny jeans !
That’s my favourite way of checking. If my skinny jeans are feeling too tight , yes you know the feeling, like you’re being squeezed into a toothpaste tube – then you definitely need to get back on track.. If the skinny jeans are starting to feel loose and you look and feel sexy in them – well, give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing great !
#2. You’re not keeping track of what you’re eating: Awareness is incredibly important if you are trying to lose weight. Many people don’t have a clue of HOW much they’re really eating or drinking for that matter. Study after study shows that keeping track of your food intake helps with weight loss. People who use food diaries or photograph their meals consistently lose more weight than people who don’t. A little note here, avoid tracking your food if you’ve been diagnosed with an eating disorder.
#3. You’re not eating enough protein: Make sure you’re eating about 25-30% of your calories as protein. It has been shown to boost your metabolism, makes you burn an extra 80-100 calories per day and it can make you feel less hungry so you automatically eat fewer calories per day. Protein can have an incredible effect on reducing your appetite by regulating ghrelin the hunger hormone, it will also drastically reduce cravings and the desire to keep on snacking.
One of the best ways to load up on protein is to have a high protein breakfast – this will help keep you full and keep your cravings at bay. High protein also keeps your metabolism fired up and prevents you from hitting that weight loss plateau we mentioned earlier.
#4: You’re eating too much or too often ! Many people who have trouble losing weight are simply eating too many calories. You may think that this does not apply to you but again studies show that we tend to under-estimate our calorie intake and we are way, way off . Try using a calorie counter
#5. You’re not eating clean enough. – Food quality is just as important as food quantity. Choose whole foods rather than processed junk foods. An easy and very simple way to stick to this is to eat single ingredient foods. Basically this means, that you eat foods that don't have a list of ingredients on the packaging. For example fruit – when you buy apples – that’s all there is, vegetables, beans, meat, eggs, cheese whole grains – in a nut shell it’s foods that occur in nature.
#6. You’re not lifting weights or doing resistance training. – This is really important because as it helps to build or maintain muscle which burns more calories than fat and helps to keep fat off for the long haul.
#7. You’re binge eating. Whether it’s on junk foods or relatively healthy foods like nuts, dark chocolate or cheese – you’re still eating more than your body needs.
#8. You’re not doing cardio – this includes activities like jogging, swimming, cycling. Cardio helps to burn that stubborn belly fat which is the dangerous fat that builds up around your organs.
#9. Are you drinking your sugar ? Avoiding all sugary drinks is an excellent weight loss strategy. They often make up a large part of a person’s calorie intake. So read the labels and watch what you are drinking. Even fruit juices fresh or packaged are high in sugar. Zero calorie drinks also count as they have also been shown to sabotage weight loss.
#10. Sleep. Are you sleeping well ? Good sleep is sooo important for your body and mind. Did you know that adults and children that don’t sleep enough have a 55% and 89% risk of becoming obese. So make sure that you and the kids are getting enough sleep.
#11. You’re not cutting back on carbohydrates. This is super important if you want to lose weight or if you have a metabolic condition such as type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. On a side note, some studies have shown that a low carb diet is more effective at weight loss than a low- fat diet.
#12. You’re not drinking enough water. Water helps you lose weight. If you drink half a liter of water half an hour before your meals you will lose 44% more than your dehydrated counterparts. Drinking water helps you become a calorie burning machine !
#13. You’re drinking too much alcohol ! This is a tough one for most people – but if you want to lose weight faster, you’ve got to say goodbye to the alcohol. Drinking a spirit like vodka or gin with a zero calorie mixer is best. Beer, wine and sugary cocktails are very high in calories. Alcohol itself has about 7 calories per gram, which is high..
#14. You’re not eating mindfully: A technique called mindful eating may be one of the world’s most powerful weight loss tools. It involves slowing down, eating without distraction, savoring and enjoying each bite while listening to the natural signals that tell your brain when your body has had enough. Numerous studies have shown that mindful eating can cause significant weight loss and reduce the frequency of binge eating
#15. There are some medical conditions that can drive weight gain and make it much harder to lose weight. These include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and sleep apnea. Certain medications like anti-depressants can also make weight loss harder — or even cause weight gain. Yet all hope is not lost, with the right diet and exercise, it is possible.
#16. Junk food addiction, in this case if you find yourself having very strong food cravings or a food addiction then the best thing would be to seek professional help in addition to incorporating a healthy diet. Step, by step you can beat it !
#17. Unrealistic expectations : Weight loss is generally a slow process. Many people lose patience before reaching their goal. Although it is often possible to lose weight fast in the beginning, very few people can continue to lose weight at a rate of more than ½ a kilo per week.
It is important to focus on creating better health and wellbeing through eating a nutrient -dense diet and add in exercise than to focus solely on weight-loss.
#18. You’re too focused on dieting. Did you know that there are studies that show people who diet actually gain more weight over time. Diets don’t work in the long term. Focus on nourishing your body instead of depriving it and let weight loss follow as a natural side effect. Let your main focus be on creating healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits for life !
I know, weight loss is not always easy and numerous factors can bring it to a standstill.
Yet, at the most basic level, not reaching your weight loss goal can occur when calorie intake is equal to or higher than calorie use.
Try using strategies such as mindful eating, keeping a food diary, eating more protein, and doing strength exercises.
In the end, changing your weight and your lifestyle requires patience, and the 3 D’s which are discipline, dedication and determination…
I must confess that I am such a sucker for ice-cream. One reason I was ’nearly’ a vegan for years was because I couldn’t give up my ice-cream.
We all seem to like ice cream, don't we? It’s no wonder with that highly addictive combination of fat and sugar.
Truth be told, it is only recently that supermarkets have started stocking a variety of ice-creams to suit people’s nutritional needs.
I am sure there are quite a few of you out there that eat ice-cream, and experience the short-lived pleasure only to pay for it later with wicked indigestion, gas, bloating and even diarrhea from the dairy and sugar combination.
The good news is, like the grain industry have come up with gluten-free bread which can now be found everywhere, the ice cream industry is stepping up their game and creating healthier options for those that are lactose intolerant, Keto, Vegan, Paleo, or others that simply want to enjoy an occasional bowl of ice cream and not curse their decision a few hours later. So, the fact is, there's actually now some pretty decent store-bought ice cream options out there.
So, let’s get down to the nitty, gritty of what to look for in a healthy ice-cream.
Keto ice cream lovers now have more choices than ever. Traditional ice cream is generally high in carbs, mostly from sugar, and contains around 20g carbs per ½ cup serving. Nowadays you can find ice cream that has less than 5g net carbs per 500ml.
The only thing with keto-friendly ice-creams is that many brands may add indigestible fibre (such as inulin or tapioca fibre) to decrease net carbs. They’ll also throw in zero-sugar artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which can cause uncomfortable gas, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea in some people.
Put simply, avoid eating a whole tub of Keto ice cream in one go – otherwise …. the toilet is exactly where you’ll be sitting afterwards !
Regular ice cream uses cream as its base (hence the name), while “high-protein” brands are usually made with skim milk along with whey or milk protein concentrate to increase protein content. However, they usually only contain around 6g protein per serving; but to be fair, that’s double traditional ice cream’s protein content (2-3g). Don’t forget to read the labels, as many high protein brands may add some nasties such as gums or carrageenans. If you are lactose-intolerant or you generally avoid dairy, it may be tougher to find a high protein ice-cream since most are dairy – based.
Traditional ice cream contains anywhere from 7-13g of fat per serving. Today, you can find quite a few ice creams lower than 5g of fat per ½ cup—and there are even brands with literally zero fat.
Low fat products in general are questionable as most often the fat is removed from the milk and is replaced with sugar, which we already know in large amounts is disastrous to a healthy, nutritious diet. We also know that without the fat you are more likely to eat more of it as you won’t feel satiated compared with the full fat varieties.
Your average ice-cream has a high content of sugar which can range from between 12 – 24g of added sugar in ½ Cup.
Today you can find dozens of low-sugar and even zero-sugar ice creams… for example; those that are labelled “low fat” or “high protein,” it’s important to consider what they’re replacing that sugar with to make it taste better than just a tub of ice.
Usually, sugar is replaced with ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes, which can often be worse for you than actual sugar.
Here are some general guidelines.
Consume in moderation:
In summary, I would probably choose ice cream with a few grams of natural sugar over one that contains zero sugar, or contains large amounts of artificial sweeteners or bloat-inducing sugar alcohols.
Traditional ice cream, which is rich in dairy and high in sugar, fat, and calories, contains a very simple list of real food ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks.
However, in order to create “healthier” ice creams that tailor to specific diets or health needs, many of these basic ingredients get swapped out for alternatives, some of which may be harmless whilst others are anything other than healthy.
Unfortunately, a large number of vegan and dairy-free ice-cream companies add vegetable oils as an emulsifier, to make up for the low-fat content. The most common vegetable oils used are soybean, canola and cotton seed. Avoid vegetable oils like the plague, simply put they cause inflammation in the body and are bad for brain and heart health.
When the label mentions natural flavours, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are natural. “Natural flavours” is a blanket term for any plant- or animal-based ingredient that a company wants to keep secret. In general, while most “natural flavours” won’t kill you in moderate amounts, I’d look for ice cream brands that use more natural flavouring ingredients, like cinnamon, cacao, peppermint, mastic, rum and which are actually listed on the label.
Gums, Stabilizers, and Thickeners
Look at most healthy or dairy-free ice creams, and you’ll notice the presence of gums such as xanthan gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, acacia gum, or carob bean gum. These are added to prevent the formation of ice crystals, which is key to a rich, creamy, smooth ice cream. While these gums are generally thought to be safe, they are in essence soluble fibres that the body can’t break down, so for some people, especially those with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or leaky gut problems, they can cause digestive upset.
Another very common stabilizer is carrageenan, which is an extract of red edible seaweed. It’s commonly used in ice cream due to its gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties. However, it should be avoided as some animal studies link it to inflammation, diabetes and even cancer.
Taste, Texture & Thaw Times.
Even if an ice cream passes the test with macronutrients, sweeteners, and additives, along with quality and dietary considerations, you probably won't want to eat it unless it tastes good ! Two important factors are taste and texture.
Healthy ice creams also tend to be somewhat more limited in flavours because the more add in’s added to them – the more likely they would sabotage the health factor.
Most people want a creamier texture—regardless of whether or not there is any actual dairy in the ice cream—which is the result of higher fat content.
Finally, there’s the importance of thaw time. There can be quite a variation in the time it takes for different ice creams to thaw. If an ice-cream takes 15 minutes to thaw before you can eat it – it may dampen your ice-cream enthusiasm. I am willing to bet that when most of you want to eat ice cream you'd prefer to eat it right then and there and if you have kids, there’s absolutely no way they'd want to wait !
Whatever ice cream you choose to eat, it can absolutely be part of a healthy diet but always in moderation !
Picture this…it’s 1985. Imagine a tween girl lazily laying in a park, on a sunny, bright day. She’s holding a glittery purple pen and a pink-princess journal, scrawling about unicorns and heartbreak high – “dear diary…”.
That is the cliché people visualise when thinking of “journaling”.
But it’s not 1985. It’s 2021.
Journaling is now a form of self-discovery through expressive writing, that aims to understand the complexity of human psychology, and adds clarity to emotions.
In a University of Texas study called “How do I love thee? Let me count the words: the social effects of expressive writing” researchers found that participants who wrote about their deepest thoughts and relationships were more likely to engage in intimate discussions…strengthening their relationships through the simple act of writing.
Further research found in Science magazine, and by Emmons and McCullough also supports positive outcomes from letting go of emotional hang-ups. Using journaling as a method of ‘downloading’ highs and lows from participants' minds, over a ten week period, showed that they were more happy about life.
Journalist, Michael Grothaus even writes that there are studies suggesting journaling can strengthen the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and aid in better sleep (Grothaus, 2015).
Journaling isn’t specific to happiness and health either.
It helps in business and success too. Scientific positive psychology research shows a positive mindset results in:
31% higher productivity,
37% higher sales,
3x more creativity.
Writing accesses the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational (Psychology Notes HQ).
This frees up your right brain to create, wonder, and ‘feel’. This sense of harmony allows us to boost brainpower and become more creative thinkers…better understanding the world around us, making a big difference in our well-being (Grothaus, 2015).
However, simply writing a “brain dump” of words on a page may feel great…it might even make you feel happier, but there’s little evidence that it will increase your well-being.
For journaling to have a positive impact on health, there needs to be prompts or guidance.
Sign Up to My Program : Write Yourself to Wellness Through Journaling
The journal program will provide you with hundreds of proven prompts and lesson topics over 14 days.
Including daily notifications that will guide you through choosing the right prompt for the most positive experience. No matter what prompt you choose you will find yourself able to easily express emotions through writing.
Your will discover…
A boost in ‘feel good’ mood,
Enhanced sense of well-being,
Reduce symptoms of worry before an important event (like a work meeting);
Discover improved working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005).
You do not need to be an accomplished writer or a literary genius to get started. Each lesson will help you to break down barriers and make you more mindful of your actions.
That’s not all…
Each daily lesson is attached to a daily check-in, designed to keep you on track and focused. Plus, there is a mid-challenge review, designed to tap into your thoughts and improve program adherence.
By the end of the 14-day challenge, you will be equipped with the mental strength, freedom and building-blocks to help make journaling an automatic habit; for more happiness, success and authentic self-growth.
By journaling about the things you really enjoy, focusing on your responses, and making them a reality, you will feel better a happier.
This means that you don’t need to turn to food to experience joy anymore. As a result, it can help you lose weight seemingly effortlessly when your main focus is not on eating and food.
If you’re struggling with your weight and dieting, I want you to know that it’s usually not about the food...It’s often about the fact that you're not taking care of yourself and you're filling those voids with foods that give you pleasure.
To conquer that issue, try tackling the journaling prompts which will help you to figure out what your needs actually are.
Spoiler alert: it's probably not a bag of chips or a bar of chocolate.
When you write your responses, you should feel happiness or light up a bit at the thought of the things your soul craves.
When you feel that, you'll know that you’ve hit gold. That’s the real you speaking, and it’s time to listen.
Click on this link to: Sign Up to My Program : Write Yourself to Wellness Through Journaling
Constipation isn’t something we often talk about, unless you hang around with me... But given it affects up to 25% of the population (and mostly women) it means a lot of us are suffering in silence. And while most people think of constipation as just an annoying symptom, it can also be the root cause of other symptoms and conditions, including fatigue, weight gain, low mood, and many more.
Unfortunately for most people, when this happens, they reach for a laxative pill, which can lead to what is known as lazy bowel syndrome. Your bowels become so addicted to laxatives that they cannot move without one. Laxatives should never be used on a long-term basis for constipation. They can actually lead to chronic constipation due to dehydration, complicating the problem and leading to a never-ending cycle.
It is really important to understand that constipation is a sign that things aren’t right in our digestive process and left unchecked for a long time, it will eventually lead to other complications which may well have been avoided had the initial discomfort of constipation been checked and addressed in the first place.
To understand the consequences of long-term constipation, it is important to understand the body’s excretion process. Your body must get rid of what it does not need along with toxins that may have tagged along with food you have eaten. There are toxins found in processed/pre-packaged foods and smaller amounts found in fresh foods that need to be excreted.
So, how do you know if you suffer from chronic constipation ?
There’s two different ways to tell if you have constipation. The first is the Rome III diagnostic criteria. It identifies people as having functional constipation when 25% of bowel movements are associated with at least two of the following symptoms: straining; hard or lumpy stools; a sense of incomplete evacuation; a sense of anorectal obstruction; the need for manual maneuvers; or fewer than three bowel movements per week in the previous three months, with an onset of symptoms longer than six months.
How Constipation Endangers Your Health
Most people think of constipation as a symptom rather than the cause of their health problems. For many functional gastrointestinal conditions like gut pathogens, leaky gut and food sensitivities, this is definitely the case - which is why you might want to get tested and uncover the root cause of your constipation.
But, constipation itself can also be the root cause of other symptoms and conditions. Constipation can wreak havoc with your insides, stemming from one of three main issues;
1. Toxin reabsorption in the colon, including excess hormones that would normally be excreted in the stool. Imagine what happens when all these toxins are jammed in your colon and going nowhere. The toxins are left to lie in your digestive tract, and the dangers can be many, the most common is colon cancer. The body can literally absorb toxins into its tissues when our colon’s movement is stuck.
2. Imbalance of intestinal flora, including a reduction in healthy species and overgrowths of unwanted bacteria or pathogens.
3. Structural and physical effects of large hard stools and the straining that commonly accompanies them.
Here are the top 10 symptoms and signs of constipation:
1. Effects of constipation on fatigue
Constipation and fatigue go hand-in-hand, with strong evidence for a connection between the two. The reason being is a dysbiosis caused by constipation can increase the fermentation of carbohydrates and the production of various gases, including super smelly hydrogen sulphide thought to cause dysfunction of the mitochondria - the energy producers within our cells. Impaired detoxification of toxic substances that can enter the bloodstream may also impact energy levels and cause fatigue.
2. Effects of constipation on weight gain
Yes, a build-up of poop can add a few extra kilos - anyone who has done colonic irrigation or an enema can attest to that... But what about ‘real’ weight, the fat storage kind? Yes, that too. Science is just starting to understand how a dysbiosis of intestinal flora can cause weight gain and obesity - but the link is definitely there. Hormone imbalances, particularly those relating to oestrogen have also been linked with obesity. So, not clearing those excess estrogens and having them reabsorbed back into your system might not be so good for your waistline.
3. Effects of constipation on the skin
Another side-effect of toxicity associated with constipation is acne and skin breakouts. This happens when toxins and waste are re-absorbed back into the bloodstream via the colon, rather than being eliminated. This study showed that 54% of acne patients have significantly altered gut flora while probiotics (beneficial bacteria) have also been shown to reduce symptoms. One thing is for sure, beauty begins in the bowel.
4. Effects of constipation on SIBO
Constipation is one of the highest risk-factors and most common causes of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This recently discovered condition, where bacteria from the large intestine end up in the small intestine where they don’t belong, is thought to be responsible for up to 80% of IBS cases. While the most common symptoms associated with SIBO are constipation, diarrhoea and extreme bloating, it has also been connected with fatigue, weight gain and many of the other issues discussed in this blog post.
5. Effects of constipation on brittle nails and thinning hair
Nutritional deficiencies can affect the growth of both hair and nails. And as we know, a lack of healthy flora in the gut can also decrease the absorption of many nutrients essential for energy and growth. Excess toxins being reabsorbed into the bloodstream doesn’t help your beauty regime, leaving you at risk of brittle nails and thinning hair.
6. Effects of constipation on poor immunity
Our intestinal flora is responsible for much of the body’s immune response, including the removal of cell debris, viruses, bacteria, and cancerous cells. As constipation is often associated with missing or damaged bacteria (intestinal flora), the impact on your immune system can be significant. The toxic build-up and inflammation associated with constipation can also impair the immune system and leave you vulnerable to infections like urinary tract infections (UTIs).
7. Effects of constipation on estrogen dominance
Constipation can inhibit the excretion of unwanted estrogen from the body and promote its reabsorption. We are exposed to a lot of environmental sources of estrogens through toxins such as plastics, medications and hormones in animal proteins that we consume. This means that most people have excess oestrogen coming into the body that needs to be excreted each day. If we are constipated, these excess estrogens can be re-absorbed in the colon and cause elevated estrogen levels, a condition also associated with allergies, weight gain, fatigue and breast cancer. Women who pooped three or more times a day had a 46% decreased risk of getting breast cancer compared to women who had bowel movements once per day.
8. Effects of constipation on structural conditions
Beyond functional and chronic disease, constipation can also cause structural problems that may require surgical intervention. Straining during bowel movements and sitting on the toilet for extended periods can result in haemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and anal fissures.
9. Effects of constipation on faecal impaction
Faecal impaction is basically a bowel obstruction caused by poop that has hardened in the colon to the point that it is causing a solid blockage. In severe cases, faecal impaction can cause ulcers or bowel perforation. This is definitely one of the more severe side effects of constipation.
10. Effects of constipation on anxiety and depression
Mood and anxiety disorders have long been scientific bedfellows with constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders. While constipation is often thought to be the symptom, recent neuroscientific research has begun to show the importance of intestinal flora in the development of brain symptoms. So, there’s even more reason you might be feeling low if you can’t go to the loo, and it's these kinds of side effects of constipation that people aren't often aware of that make a huge difference to our everyday lives.
WHAT STRATEGIES CAN I USE TO RELIEVE CONSTIPATION?
These are some healthier ways to get a handle on constipation:
Constipation can be either a symptom of dysfunction or the cause. In either case, it’s an important message about an imbalance in your body that needs to be addressed. By maintaining healthy digestion with ample hydration, good nutrition, probiotics, and stress coping, you’ll be on your way toward optimal intestinal health and keeping your thyroid and estrogen levels steady.
Tomatoes are nutrition powerhouses and are actually a fruit which are prepared in meals like a vegetable. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including lycopene.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant providing numerous health benefits. It is shown to enhance athletic performance and improve overall health and fitness. Drinking tomato juice prior to workouts is said to reduce harmful chemical levels caused by oxidative stress.
Think about lycopene as the inflammation clean-up crew when we exercise. Demanding workouts increases levels of oxygen (oxidative stress) and other chemicals potentially damaging to muscle tissue, cells, and even DNA. Antioxidants—especially lycopene—have been shown to significantly reduce these inflammatory chemical reactions.
There are research studies done which show that consuming tomato juice can be better than energy drinks at helping the body recover from exercise.
Experts say that tomatoes provide vital chemicals to help muscles recover and return to normal after being stretched and strained.
A number of health institutions in Greece conducted tests on 15 athletes over a period of two months, looking at vital signs before, during and after exercise.
Nine of the athletes drank tomato juice after exercise and six consumed their regular fizzy energy drink.
Those drinking tomato juice had quicker levels of muscle recovery and their glucose levels returned to normal faster after strenuous exercise.
Tomatoes contain a compound called lycopene, which principally give them their deep-red colour.
In the study, led by researchers at the General Chemical State Laboratory of Greece, harmful levels of enzymes and proteins which contribute to muscle and brain damage returned to normal quicker in those athletes who drank tomato juice after exercise.
The researchers said tomato juice was so effective that people with higher levels of harmful proteins could benefit in just two months. This study was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.
Other Health Benefits of Tomato Juice…Lycopene-rich tomato juice does more than improving athletic performance. Its superior antioxidant effect provides numerous health benefits.
You can add some more anti-inflammatory sprinkles such as ½ a tsp of turmeric, a pinch of black pepper, or tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and if you’re feeling naughty you could add a splash of tequila or vodka ! Stir with a cucumber or celery stick and enjoy !
Undeniably in the modern health movement, sugar has become the super villain.
But, the truth is... not all sweeteners are bad. Believe it or not, there are some sweeteners that can offer health benefits to the body like essential vitamins, minerals, energy, and more.
The flavour and experience of sweet foods creates a pleasurable experience that’s ingrained in our human brains. Sweet tastes team up their abilities to alleviate stress and even reduce feelings of pain, which makes it very difficult for some people to control their sugar intake.
Despite the psychological benefits, the key to having a healthy relationship with sugary foods is mindfulness and moderation.
Overeating the wrong kinds of sugar can be linked to a whole host of health problems related to weight management, heart health, skin issues, and diabetes.
Sugar comes in a few forms, namely sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Sucrose is the scientific name for table sugar, which is made up of fructose and glucose. Glucose and fructose are the sugars found in foods ranging from fruits and vegetables to dairy, grains, and processed foods.
Sugars like fructose, glucose, and sucrose are found naturally in foods that humans have always eaten, modern foods often contain refined, processed sugars that are anything but natural.
All three of these compounds are considered ‘sugar,’ however, their chemical structures vary, and the way that your body digests and metabolizes them dictates how they affect your well-being.
Understanding the different types of sugars and their impact on the body is crucial to knowing how to add some sugary goodness into your life without harming your health.
Is All Sugar Bad?
In terms of the health benefits, sugar can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on where it’s derived from, how it’s processed, and how much is consumed.
When sugar from unhealthy sources is eaten in excess, it can definitely lead to negative health impacts such as metabolic issues and weight gain.
On the other hand, healthier forms of sugar, when consumed mindfully, moderately and at the right times, can contribute to a balanced diet, and can even be used to support athletic performance and recovery.
There are a few factors which makes a sweetener unhealthy. Glucose and fructose are both monosaccharides, the building blocks of carbohydrates, and they are usually found in natural whole foods like fruit, honey, and starchy vegetables. Although they can have varying levels of fructose and glucose, all whole foods naturally contain a combination of the two sugars.
Glucose and fructose are also found in processed foods, but often in their refined, isolated forms (like high-fructose corn syrup, which is a highly concentrated fructose from corn).
These highly-processed, isolated versions of sugar don’t naturally exist in whole foods and are typically associated with certain health issues. For example, too much pure fructose consumption can impact cholesterol levels, liver health, blood sugar management, and cause diabetes.
Also, when these sugars are highly-processed, they lose much of their nutrition, which means you’re left with all the calories and few (to none) of the health benefits.
When white sugar and coconut sugar are compared, both of which are processed sugars, but the degree of processing creates products that have very different impacts on the body.
For example, coconut sugar has a glycemic index nearly half of that of white sugar (35 vs. 65) and is loaded with minerals and vitamins that are lost in the processing of white sugar.
Coconut sugar also has a fiber called inulin which makes blood sugar spikes less likely after meals.
Unfortunately, white sugar is stripped of much of its fiber, so it doesn't offer the protective benefits of inulin like coconut sugar. In other words, your best bet is to put down the heavily processed sugars and pick up the ones that still contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
In general, healthier sweeteners are very close to (or are still in) their natural form. They’re minimally processed, whole food sugar sources that keep many, if not all, of the natural minerals and phytonutrients intact. This also has a big impact on the glycemic index, as we see in the example comparing coconut sugar to white sugar.
By preserving the nutrients, these sugars become more than just a sweet buzz. Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients and help the body perform hundreds of healthy functions.
By supporting the immune system, converting food into energy, and helping cells remain healthy, opting for nutrient-dense sugars offers a much wider range of positive effects on the body, with far fewer negative consequences.
Some of The Healthiest Sweeteners
Fruit has been demonized in low-carb and Paleo communities with the “sugar is sugar” rhetoric—when actually, refined sweeteners and fruit have completely different metabolic impacts on the body.
The fiber and water content in fruit increases feelings of fullness and can slow down the insulin response. Studies of ancestral cultures like the Kuna⁵ demonstrate how high amounts of fruit consumption can lead to better health markers and leaner body compositions.
The natural fructose in whole fruit is often picked apart by anti-fruit advocates but has not been found to have a detrimental effect on health compared to its more refined counterpart.
Stevia has gotten a full endorsement from some people in the health industry and has gotten heat from others. Factoring in both sides of the debate, it seems that stevia may not only be virtually harmless in small doses but possibly even beneficial.
The key, again, is moderation. Preliminary studies suggest that having a sweet taste with almost no intake of calories (stevia contains almost zero calories) may actually cause an insulin response.
However, in moderation, the sweetness of stevia without the caloric intake may actually improve blood sugar control⁷ and promote a healthier relationship with sweet foods.
Honey has a unique metabolic effect on the body in that it’s far different from refined sugars, despite its high fructose content. Raw honey contains enzymes, proteins, trace minerals, B vitamins, antioxidants, prebiotics, probiotics, flavonoids, and other polyphenols.
Studies show that the consumption of honey is not associated with the same metabolic effects as table sugar, and may actually have ‘obesity protective’ effects.
One human study showed that supplementing with three to five tablespoons of honey per day increases antioxidant levels⁹ in the body which include a greater presence of vitamin C.
The key with honey is to only use real honey. Studies have demonstrated that artificial ‘honey’ has the complete opposite effect on the body, including raising triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels. Artificial honey is a cheap, honey-tasting substitute made from various ingredients including corn syrup, white table sugar, and artificial flavours.
This honey impostor is commonly found on grocery store shelves and in restaurants, so it’s important to read the label. The healthiest source of honey that contains most of the beneficial enzymes and nutrients is organic, raw, and unpasteurized.
Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you can also use less in recipes to get the same sweetness.
For these reasons, I believe that real honey is one of the best natural sweeteners you can find.
Here are some ways to incorporate sugar into your life that will not only benefit your taste buds but also your health and performance.
Sparingly And In Moderation
The hardcore anti-sugar dogma that’s sweeping the health community is extreme, and these forms of strict dieting can be problematic for some people.
No-carb extremes can often result in yo-yo dieting, where depriving oneself of sugar can quickly slip into a sugar binge. Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, there are reasons to incorporate moderate amounts of healthy sweeteners into your life.
A responsible amount of sweetener would depend on your level of activity and lifestyle, as well as your goals.
Someone who is more active can typically take in more sugar, as they’re depleting glycogen stores from frequent physical activity.
As a general guideline, the American Heart Association¹¹ recommends staying under 100 calories per day of sugar for women (six teaspoons, 20 grams) and 150 calories per day for men (nine teaspoons, 36 grams).
To find your ‘sweet’ spot, consistently check in with your energy levels and cravings.
Intense sugar cravings, energy spikes and crashes, weight gain, and acne can mean too much sugar is being consumed.
If you’re concerned, you can test your own blood sugar with a blood glucose monitor, or work with a doctor to check metabolic markers such as fasting glucose and HbA1c.
Replenishing Glycogen After Exercise
Glycogen is a form of glucose that is stored in your liver and muscles. This stored energy is depleted throughout the day simply by living, but it can get depleted even faster when you exercise vigorously. When glycogen stores are depleted, exercise becomes more difficult as fatigue sets in.
Sugar is one of the quickest ways to replenish glycogen stores. Consuming a high GI food like watermelon when glycogen is low can actually speed up glycogen restoration in the muscle after exercise.
This means you can get up and running again faster with a little bit of healthy sugar, than you would with a low-GI food like beans after exercise.
Incorporating sweeteners into your diet post-workout is one way to harness the power of sugar to enhance performance.
Supporting Carb Refeeds and Diet Variation
Although low-carb diets are all the rage, newer evidence suggests that long-term, strict low-carb diets tend to lose efficacy and can even be harmful.
For the same reason that you want to cross-train, incorporating diet variation can prevent a plateau in keto or low-carb dieting. Incorporating more carbohydrates (i.e. natural sugar from whole food sources) into your diet in a mindful way can prevent “keto stalling” and ensure progression towards body composition and health goals.
Diet variation can be done in a number of ways:
The following sweeteners can offer a substantial amount of healthy benefits:
When used mindfully, sugar can actually be a tool for healthy individuals to improve their athletic performance, sustain the benefits of a long-term low-carb diet, and most importantly, live an enjoyable, well-balanced life.
The use of medicinal mushrooms dates back thousands of years because of the varied and uniquely adaptive benefits for health. Now, in recent times with functional medicine and holistic nutrition going mainstream, we’re seeing a resurgence of interest in these marvellous superfoods.
Most medicinal mushrooms are never meant to be eaten whole, they are to be taken as powders, tinctures, supplements or drunk as teas.
Medicinal Mushrooms’ Health Benefits:
Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses with a myriad of health benefits including the following:
Keep in mind that each mushroom is unique and provides its own distinct health advantages.
But before we jump in, let me help you to demystify the most common medicinal mushrooms which exist in the marketplace, so you can ultimately make well-informed decisions when choosing the best products for your health.
So here goes …
Reishi: Take the edge off with reishi, which is also known as the mushroom of Immortality
Think of reishi as nature’s Xanax. Reishi can help with sleep, anxiety, depression and focus, thanks to a compound called triterpene. It may even help with weight loss and has been shown to fiercely fight cancer cells. Much of the polysaccharides in reishi mushroom are associated with immune functions, and if taken over time can significantly support the immune system.
It is also known to improve sleep, reduce stress and fatigue.
Try it: Use a spoonful of reishi powder to make a hot, healing cup of tea, or add it to your favourite chocolate desserts (Some gourmet superfoodists really, swear by this combo.)
Lion’s Mane Mushroom: The Mushroom for the Mind
Bad case of brain fog ? Lion’s mane can help with cognition, memory and concentration. It is packed with antioxidants and strengthens the immune system like most medicinal mushrooms.
Lion’s mane is rare, in the fact that it fosters the production of the bioprotein nerve growth factor (NFG) and myelin (an insulation around nerve fibers).
Both NFG and myelin are absolutely crucial to brain health. An imbalance in them can contribute to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
That makes lion’s mane incredible brain food! This miraculous mushroom has also been shown to improve cognition, increase concentration, and alleviate anxiety and irritability.
Chaga: Get your antioxidant dose with free radical-fighting chaga
Chaga can help with aging, inflammation and lowering LDL. Chaga is rich in antioxidants, and supports immune function, liver health, brain health and increases longevity.
First medicinal uses seem to have come out of Russia around the 16th century when used as a tea to treat stomach ailments.
After 1966, Chaga gained more exposure after its healing powers were written about it in the great classic book written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s, Cancer Ward.
Chaga mushrooms are an antioxidant powerhouse, making them excellent contenders for fighting free radicals and inflammation.
This dark black mushroom combats oxidative stress (which is linked to skin aging), may prevent or slow the growth of cancer, and has been found to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol.
Shiitake Mushroom: Good for the Heart.
If you’re already cooking with shiitake in your kitchen, keep it up. These mushrooms are particularly good for the heart. Shiitakes have been shown to lower LDL in mice, and they contain compounds that inhibit the absorption and production of cholesterol in the liver, prevent plaque build-up, maintain healthy blood pressure and circulation.
Turkey Tail: Help fight cancer with turkey tail
Most medicinal mushrooms have anticancer properties due to their high amounts of antioxidants. But turkey tail takes it one step further.
Turkey tail contains a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that stimulates the immune system. PSK is so effective that it’s an approved anticancer prescription drug in Japan.
Turkey tail has been shown to improve the survival rate of people with certain cancers, fights leukemia cells, and improves the immune system of people receiving chemotherapy.
Cordyceps: Need a pick-me-up?
In a nutshell, cordyceps improves lung capacity and increases energy.
Cordyceps increases your energy because of its ability to increase ATP production through pre-cursor compounds like adenosine and cordycepin. ATP is the compound that gives our cells energy. This is why Cordyceps is recommended when it comes to physical performance. In transitional care management , cordyceps is also used for lung-related issues like asthma or even seasonal allergies.
This mushroom can be especially helpful for athletes or those who regularly work out as it has been shown to not only improve exercise and athletic performance, but also speed up post-workout muscle recovery.
If you are feeling low on energy or need a pre-workout boost, then this mushroom is for you. I shall also add that it comes with an added advantage of boosting your libido.
Warning: Always talk to your doctor beforehand to confirm if adding medicinal mushrooms to your diet is safe, especially if you’re using certain medications or are pregnant.
Ultra Cordyceps Plus
Doctor's Best Ultra Cordyceps Plus contains pure cultivated Cordyceps sinensis, an herb used for centuries in China as a rejuvenating tonic that improves energy and supports function of various organs and systems. The strain of Cordyceps in this product is recognized by the Chinese government as similar to wild Cordyceps sinensis, a rare fungus that grows above 15,000 feet in the Tibetan Highlands region of China.
Ginkgo biloba and artichoke leaf extracts are added to support the rejuvenating effects of Cordyceps.
Suggested Adult Use: Take 1 capsule daily with or without food, or as recommended by a nutritionally-informed physician.
Modified cellulose (vegetarian capsule), microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium silicate.
Cordyceps and Ginkgo biloba have mild blood-thinning properties. Use with caution when taking blood-thinning medications. Use with caution when taking MAO inhibitors.
Store in a cool dry place.
A lot of recreationists like myself will testify to the benefits of being outdoors, especially in natural settings. I always feel better after a weekend camping away from the urban sprawl of the city – physically and mentally.
But it’s not just anecdotal. There’s plenty of research to back up the claim that spending time in the great outdoors is good for your health and well-being.
And whilst this is good news, there’s a flip side to this story. Americans spend 93% of their lives indoors. Rapid urbanization is seeing people move away from rural, green spaces and into built-up, high-traffic cities.
Enjoying the great outdoors is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
There are many potential benefits to going outside:
This article is compliments from James Black. Wilderness Redefined
Barbara is a qualified nutritionist offering Health, Nutrition & Lifestyle Counseling. She gives Healthy weight loss advice and promotes the Mediterranean diet. She is the author of the Med Life Diet - creating healthy lifestyle habits and attitudes for life !