Alkaline food and herbs

Alkaline food and herbs

planting, gathering and using herbs

HERBS AND GREEN VEGETABLES HELP YOU TO KEEP YOUR BODY ALKALINE

 

Only a few decades ago, the perceived wisdom was to eat predominantly a plant-based diet with the odd meat dish thrown in. This way of eating ensures that our bodies maintain a healthy acid-alkaline balance which is so important for a healthy life. 

In recent times,  we eat an ever-increasing amount of acid-forming foods. These include sugar, meat, and dairy products. All of them cause a build-up of mucus and chronic inflammations. Over time this can lead to serious health problems. The main culprits are de-naturalized, processed foods. A constant overload of these acidic-forming foods can cause cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

The good news is that changing over to an alkaline diet is not difficult and will help you to prolong your health. It can even reverse diseases in the early stages – that is if you act early enough. Just stopping or reducing acid-forming produce for a while will help the body to ‘cure itself’.

What is ‘chronic inflammation’?

‘Acute inflammation’ is essential and a natural way for our bodies to fight infections. The problem starts when this state of  inflammation is never ‘turned off’. Then the body produces additional mucus and eventually, the body’s immune response is compromised and it starts to attack its own healthy cells. This is called chronic inflammation.

What is the optimum level of ph?
The optimum ph level is 7.4.  Ph stands for ‘potential hydrogen and is the ability of molecules to attract hydrogen ions. 1 is the lowest ph level (and the most acidic one) and 14 is the highest and most alkaline level. A ph of 7 is neutral, so you could say that a healthy body is neutral to slightly alkaline.

When we eat an overload of acidic food the body will release alkaline elements, such as the calcium in the bones to keep the blood at a healthy 7.4 ph. But if the food intake is constantly over-acidic, then there is a cutoff point to what the body can do and disease is the result.
So it is very important to re-balance the body’s ph level from time to time.

Rebalancing the ph level

One way to do this is to drink a lot of water or herbal teas, all of which are neutral to slightly alkaline. In contrast, all fruit juices, black tea, coffee, sodas are acidic.
I find the best way to rebalance the body is to drink lemon water in the morning. Lemons are very alkaline (and not acidic) and they can balance your ph level in a short period of time. Here is how to do this. 

Another way is to switch for a while from animal protein to plant-based protein such as beans, pulses and wholegrain legumes.
Leave out any milk products and swap out for plant-based milk and cheese varieties.
If you use oils, choose olive, grapeseed or coconut oil and avoid sugar as much as possible.

Herbs in all shapes and forms are alkaline. So drink plenty of herbal teas – they have varying benefits, cleanse and support your immune system.
Here are some of the best for this purpose:
Fennel, chamomile, ginger, raspberry, mint and nettle.

Here is also a link to the series – cooking with herbs – Just type this search function in the blog search box 

 

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The holistic approach to weight management

The holistic approach to weight management

Liquid Fast Day     This article is for all of you who struggle to lose weight or have become eternal yo-yo dieters. 

In 2005 I conducted a small ‘diet trial’ in which I asked people to rotate their food intake and finish off with a ‘Liquid fast day’. At the time the 5:2 diet and intermittent fasting had not even entered the mainstream. But I had always thought it sensible to rotate food and add fasting to the mix. But such a program had to be easy to follow and take little time and no fuss.

After some research, I came up with a  food rotation program inspired by the Biodynamic calendar. I figured, so many civilizations had used this before and I wanted to find out if this method was still effective.

The trial run went well and afterwards I gave everybody a simple questionnaire and debriefed them by phone. All participants reported feeling more aware of the food they were eating, most of them slept better and everybody reported much better energy levels. Which you would of course expect when you eat healthily.

But what stood out the most was how easy many of my tester found it to keep to the varied diet. Many reported it eliminated the eternal question of  – what shall I eat/cook today and it was easy to plan ahead.

This step is really important as in order to keep a healthy weight you need to find a way to progressively change your dietary habits. A week of calorie counting will not work.

When you look up and down the internet the advice is simple: Eat a healthy diet, exercise, and if you want to lose weight restrict your portion size and the frequency of food intake.  But despite all this sensible advice, we see obesity levels rise and rise. What is going so wrong for so many? Surely, this can’t just be a lack of willpower?

In my view, the way we approach ‘weight loss’, is completely wrong. It is always linked with pain/lack of food and never associated with good quality food. The first piece of advice I would give is – Do something about your weight but do not stress about it! Stay relaxed and initially only concentrate on eating seasonal, good-quality produce that is organically grown. Food should be freshly prepared and eaten in good company. Once you have mastered that change, you can go further by adding a program that will keep you in good shape for life. 

Looking around I noticed people who don’t care too much about their actual weight but do care a lot about eating good quality, preferably homemade food are on average much slimmer than people who fuss about calories and permanently seem to be on some kind of ‘diet’. Fortunately, science has rather recently backed up this observation. (Please find links to resources below this article).

Remember –  You are what you eat. But as we are all different,  it follows that we all also need to eat differently. One formula does not fit all. 

What makes us so different from each other? 

For a start, we all have different circadian rhythms, and most importantly, everyone’s gut microbiome is different. 

Inside us live millions of little microbes, mainly situated in the large intestine. They can weigh up to 2kg and are responsible for what kind of food we crave, how easy or hard we find it to lose weight, and even influence our mindset and mood swings.

An embryo develops in a largely sterile womb. But as soon as the baby is born,  microbes start to populate the baby. It is therefore really important to expose your children to all kinds of foods and let them play in non-sterile environments, dig in fresh soil, play with animals, and experience all kinds of different environments. This will help build a strong and healthy gut.

Children digging with bare hands in the vegetable gardens don’t die. But children growing up in overly bleached homes who are given antibiotics for every little ailment end up with a largely compromised gut flora that can eventually lead to an increase in allergies and health problems. Add a sedentary lifestyle and a diet of overly processed food and you have the perfect storm. Once the microbiome has completely changed, it can be really hard to lose weight and a cycle of eternal fruitless diet attempts is the result.

The Biodynamic way of life always stresses the interconnectedness between the soil and the food we eat. We need these healthy gut microbes to come into our gut with organic fruit and vegetables. Believe it or not, it is these microbes that dictate what we crave. I for example, really crave fresh salads as these have always been part of my diet and my gut microbes ask for more and more of what they are used to.

Artificial fertilizers and pest control get rid of the healthy microbes in the soil. Therefore the food harvested from this kind of soil lacks any beneficial microbes and has very few nutrients.  Although we seem to eat a lot of ‘good stuff’, the gut is still a ‘microbial wasteland’  and can easily be colonized by strains of the sugar-craving ‘bad bacteria’. Once these take over your gut – guess what you crave? Sugar –  and so the vicious circle continues.

Next time you think about ‘going on a diet’, the first step is to sort out your cupboard and stock up with fresh, seasonal vegetables. But – and that is very important- don’t change your diet in one sweeping step. This will never work.  Your gut flora needs time to get used to your new diet. This can only happen very slowly and over time. So it is not a swooping step, rather a gentle nudge in the right direction and then a persistent plan to follow through and make it a permanent change.

If your current diet consists of mostly ready-made meals, please don’t stop eating them! Just introduce 1 freshly cooked, healthy meal per week. That’s all. Once this feels effortless, make it 2 and slowly 3. And over time you will have cleaned up your diet, but more importantly, you will have given your gut microbiome time to adapt and endorse your new way of eating. Write down which food you crave. If these are all of the salty, heavily processed kind, make an effort to cut out just one of these foods and replace it with your favorite healthy snack. Then slowly move on and replace another item with another healthy snack. You will see that your taste buds will change over time as well. 

Believe it or not, once you live with freshly cooked, healthy meals you will struggle to eat greasy ready-made meals as your gut flora has now changed, and you will now crave this ‘new diet’ (meaning here the food we eat and not a term for losing weight).

Finally, try to add in some fasting days. This can be very hard at first, but please do persevere. Again this habit needs to be built up slowly. If you have never done this before, please follow a good program and don’t overdo it! If you are on the mailing list (your can sign up via the Freebies), we send out occasionally a blueprint of a fasting regime. 

Once you have listened to your body and have found your own individual food program, you will be able to keep your weight forever- with no stress and drama. If you have never heard of ‘microbiome’ here are 2 useful videos from Kings College, London where Prof Tim Spector led much of its research program.

1.Discovery of the microbiome                                2. Microbes, diet and health  

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