For those of you who have been to my retreats
, you have probably gathered that although I cherish and prescribe a healthy diet and life-style
, I'm not an ardent fan of nutrition by numbers - e.g. how many grams of protein you need on a daily basis etc. To me, measuring nutrition and at the same time, being mindful and feeling a connection with what you eat on an energetic and heart level
don't really go hand in hand - but perhaps that's just me... and I'm sure there are people out there who manage to do both...
To me, one's a left brain activity and the other a right brain activity, and being a typical Pisces as well as a lover of blissful meditation, I prefer the floaty, dreamy sensation of tasting the sunshine
in my kale
rather than storing the nutritional facts about it in the filing archives of my brain... (even though it is very impressive: one cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1 020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus!!!)
beautiful, healthy kale - full of goodness, including antioxidants
So, although I don't talk very much on the theory of nutrition, but tend to keep it more practical, there are instances when terminology raises its head and needs some explanation... (e.g. fats - saturated-, unsaturated,- trans-! See my blog- http://www.yogadetoxretreats.co.uk/2/post/2011/10/fats-the-good-the-bad-and-the-trans-fats.html
One such term is 'antioxidant
'... and a lot of people aren't sure what an antioxidant
is or does..., and as it's a rainy and chilly day outside (in May in Portugal?!), I thought I'd share some theory with you...Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. A free radical is any atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in its outer shell.
Now, electrons prefer to travel in pairs. Occasionally, though, an atom or a group of atoms (molecule) loses one electron. When this happens, the atom or molecule becomes a free radical
. Like the human body in general, atoms prefer stability. An atom that's missing an electron will thus steal one from the nearest stable atom - turning that atom into a free radical
. As you can probably imagine, this is the start of a chain reaction...Free radicals
are created as a result of the process of oxidation
- when a substance combines with oxygen. This is part of the body's normal metabolism, which tends to increase with age. Free radicals
can also be created by the immune system to help destroy bacteria and viruses during an infection
. And they can form as a result of exposure to certain chemicals, environmental toxins like pollution, radiation, and cigarette smoke
. Under normal circumstances the body can easily rid itself of free radicals,
but problems can occur if the number of free radicals
increases beyond the body's ability to neutralize or destroy them.
So, when a cell / molecule becomes a free radicle
, it becomes highly reactive (except a few which are not chemically reactive, such as melanin) and can lead to free radical damage
(often closely associated with oxidative damage). The cell membrane (the outer covering of the cell) becomes either too vulnerable or too resistant to outside influences. It can also damage the cell's DNA, causing the cell to malfunction or reproduce abnormally.
The damage caused by free radicals
plays a part in a number of chronic diseases in people who eat processed foods, non-organic produce, meat and dairy
to include hardening of the arteries, cancer, and arthritis
. Free radicals
can also interfere with your immune system. So, fighting off damage with antioxidants
helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections. Antioxidants
are reducing agents that limit oxidative damage to biological structures by passivating them from free radicals
Okay, time to take another look at kale
... Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidants - vitamins A, C, and K - and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.
Hippocrates said 100's of years ago, "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food." These words are just as true today as they were in 470 BC!!
I advocate a diet of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts. Eat what is local, what is fresh and in season and is available in your community. If kale isn't available, eat mustard greens or spinach. If berries are not available or too expensive, then eat apples and oranges. By eating locally organic food from local farmers, you are not only benefiting from fresh produce but you are also participating within your community by supporting hard working neighbors and businesses.
Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet will improve your health. But some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables – especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
These foods are the "superfoods" more than the synthetically created powders and pills which make a lot of money for some multinational corporations / individuals but don't deliver the nutritional goods to the same extent to the individuals - nor to your own community. Health, happiness, peace, kindness to your fellow man, compassion to all animals and respect and awareness for our environment is all part of achieving wholeness and wellness...... :)
walking in nature feeds the Soul
Yoga stretches and opens the body, whilst stilling the mind
When my yoga-ing, detoxing guests tell their friends and colleagues that they're going on a yoga detox retreat for their annual holiday, the response is very often one of surprise / shock / concern for their friend's mental health / complete wonder as to WHY?! WHY would anyone in their own right mind not have a holiday where one has the luxury of sleeping in until noon, of eating generous portions of delicious restaurant / hotel food, of drinking lavish amounts of alcohol without worrying about the consequences... etc. etc.??
I hope you are all well… and enjoying the holiday season! For those of you in the northern hemisphere, like myself, I hope you're cozy and warm in front of the fire... and for those of you in the southern hemisphere, I hope you're enjoying the life of a lazy lizard!
What with 12.12.12 and 21.12.12 and Christmas and the full moon on the 28.12.12… and New Year just around the corner… not to mention planet Earth's three day alignment with the centre of the galaxy… - a frantic time is certainly upon us!!
Spring Detox in Turkey
As the scent of orange blossoms gently announces the arrival of Spring, our bodies respond by craving more freshness, more organic, more vibrant health!! Spring is a great time to get fresh with our foods and clean things up a bit. A spring detox shakes us from the winter heaviness and gets our bodies digesting light and breezily ready for the heat of Summer.
As the seasons change, so too should our diet – no longer in need of that warming winter stodge, we can now adorn our tables and palates with colourful salads, light and delicious summer soups, fresh juices and smoothies, and even pick our desserts straight from the fruit-laden trees.
For those of you who don't know, the thirteenth century Sufi poet and mystic, Rumi, holds a special place in my heart.
My introduction to Rumi and Sufism was through the author Reshad Field and his book 'The Last Barrier'.
I was living in London at the time (1992), and it was as if this book spoke to me on every page with all the synchronicities that kept jumping out at me! It took me by the hand and put me on 'the way'.
In 'The Last Barrier', Field tells the beautiful Sufi story by Rumi - 'Chinese Art and Greek Art'. It has stayed with me all these years...
Rumi (1207 –1273)
On my yoga detox retreats, I often give a few suggestions on how to eat more healthily... and one important aspect to this is that of FATS. We all need some fat in our diet. But eating too much fat makes us more likely to become overweight. What’s more, too much of a particular kind of fat – saturated fat – can raise our cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. That’s why it’s important to cut down on fat, and choose foods that contain unsaturated fat.
Eating too much fat can make us more likely to put on weight, because foods that are high in fat are also high in energy (calories). Being overweight raises our risk of serious health problems, such as:
- heart disease
- type II diabetes
- high blood pressure
But this doesn’t mean that all fat is bad. We need some fat in our diet because it helps the body absorb certain nutrients. Fat is a source of energy, and provides essential fatty acids that the body can’t make itself. Types of fat
There are two main types of fat found in food: saturated
Saturated and unsaturated fat contain the same amount of calories. But as part of a healthy diet, we should try to cut down on food that is high in saturated fat, and instead eat foods that are rich in unsaturated fat.
lemon water is alkalising on the body
As many of you may know, I encourage you to start every day with a glass of lemon water - rather than a coffee!!On my yoga detox retreats we always kick-start the day with a glass of lemon water before yoga.
Although lemons are acidic - contain citric acid - they are alkalising for the body!
The combination of the high alkaline minerals lemons contain (calcium, potassium, magnesium) and the low sugar content, means that once inside the body, they have an alkalising effect on the body (whereas a cup of coffee has a highly acidic effect on the body! I know, I know... the smell of coffee in the morning....Sorry, but it's true...to start your day with a cup of coffee is not good for you!)
A house is not a home until you have at least one cat sharing it with you... - that's my philosophy..., but then I am a hopeless cat lover. I think I must have been a witch in a previous life.
So, I have invited my four beautiful feline friends to share our magical valley in the mountains of Monchique... as soon as I can be there to help them acclimatise to their new surroundings...
Majectic Rama - 2010
Rama - the chilled out 'dad' who loves drinking water from the taps...
Sita - 2005
and Sita - the beautiful 'mommy' cat who oozes cheek, personality and charm...
Lila helping in the office - 2006
Lila - the reclusive sister, who likes to live life on her own terms...
I won't be able to move the cats until late September / early October when I return from Turkey, but when I do, life in the valley will feel even more complete.
Here, in Paradise, a new journey commences - one of living Life as close to Nature as possible, following a sustainable life-style, building an eco household, planting a permaculture garden... and living Love.
a beautiful cactus baring fruit!
one of the ruins in need of some loving renovation...
plants happily flowering on one of the terraces
- our Monchique valley - all 7 hectares of Paradise! So looking forward to spending time with Nature and creating a space of Love...
Feel truly blessed!