Tag Archives: essential oils

Stay Well This Winter (no supplements required!)

Most of us see a cold, flu or sniffle and an inevidable part of the Winter season. I used to think it was the cold weather that made us more susceptible. Not directly apparently. It actually has far more to do with how our lifestyles change in Winter. We spend more time inside, so we’re breathing in more recycled air, thats likely full of germs. The heating systems don’t do much to help and can dry out our mucous membranes (remember that mucous is one of our first lines of defence against pathogens). We may become more sedentary, as we think it’s too dark, cold and miserable to get outside. This also means we’re getting less Vitamin D – a hormone that has immune-modulating effects. Then there’s the craving for comfort foods that might be a bit stodgier and less nutritious that our Summer and Spring cravings for smoothies and vibrant salads.

I actually love that our tendencies towards poor immune function is cold weather has little to do with the temperature drop are far more to do with our behaviours. This means we can be pro-active about things and practice prevention.

*Touch all the wood* … I rarely get sick, regardless of the season and I reckon it’s got quite a bit to do with how much sun exposure I get, my affinity for exercise and addiction to fruits and veggies. I don’t take vitamins or supplements, even as a precaution. For me it’s all lifestyle and it seems to work uber well. Here’s my top 5 suggestions for avoiding the Winter sniffles.

Appreciate Mamma Nature

In Australia we love to love Summer and love to hate Winter. Let’s change this up. 

Nature is still a beauty in Winter and getting outside more will do you loads of good. It’s normal to experience all the seasons, our body’s expect temperature changes. In fact, I don’t think they appreciate us having climate control air-conditioning systems year-round. How are they ever supposed to learn resilience if we never let them experience the extremes of the season. We don’t get as much sun in Winter so it’s vital for out Vitamin D levels that we get as much exposure as we can when it decides to show it’s pretty face. Not only it Vitamin D super-important for our immunity, but also our mood. ever noticed when you spend too much time indoors you start to feel a bit detached and despondent? Vitamin D my friends. Get around it.

Action Steps

Rug up in your fave jumper and go for a walk in the afternoon sun. Take a friend or your poochy pal for some company if you lack motivation. Alternatively listen to an awesome podcast.

Sit outside when you eat your lunch if you can, and if you have time when you finish, maybe just lie there a while to soak up the rays.

Don’t cover yourself with sunscreen straight away! The second we apply sunscreen we impair our skin’s ability to synthesise vitamin D. In the Winter sun, you won’t burn for at least 20 minutes, after which wither slap on a hat or apply a natural sunscreen that doesn’t contain any suspicious chemicals. Check out this article by Alexx Stuart from Low to Life for more info if you’re thinking “what’s wrong with regular sunscreens?”

Maintain your Love Affair with Fruits and Veggies

Our need for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients doesn’t decrease in Winter – even if our appetite for salad does

Get around the hearty winter veggies and vibrant greens of winter. Pumpkin, carrot, sweet spud, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, pears, avos, zucchini, citrus fruits, ginger and garlic are just some of the beaut offerings in season during the cooler weather.

Action Steps

Make an epic soup from sweet veggies such as pumpkin or carrot, adding ginger and ground cinnamon, plus some coconut cream or soft nuts (think macas or cashews) to creamy it up. I like to add cauliflower as this makes the soup extra creamy. Use this recipe as a base and tweak to suit your tastebuds.

Indulge in this super-easy broccoli amazingness – I’ve been adding ginger lately plus some coconut vinegar for added flavours. The ginger really warms me up and the coconut vinegar contains beneficial bacteria to keep my gut happy (remember that the gut is the seat of the immune system).

Cook zoodles (zucchini noodles – or other spiralled veggie of choice) in homemade broth with broccoli florets and chunks of pumpkin or sweet spud. Add some meat leftover from broth making or cubes of chopped skinless salmon (allow to poach slightly in broth before removing from heat) and you’ve got yourself a deeply nourishing meal.

Make a homemade pear and frozen berry crumble. Just toss cored and chopped pears with a cup or two of frozen berries, the juice of an orange or lemon and some cinnamon and vanilla bean powders and place in a baking dish (or individual ramekins). Make a crumble from 1 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup chopped macadamias, 1/4 cup softened coconut oil, 1/2 cup cashew butter and 1 cup shredded coconut. Rub cashew butter and coconut oil into nut meal, chopped nuts and coconut. sprinkle over fruit and bake at 160 degrees C for 30 minutes.

If all else fails, grab a fluff bathrobe, your favo blanket or a mega-size coat and wear it round your shoulders whilst you sip on your fave green smoothie recipe.

Don’t be Tempted to Skimp on Movement

There’s always ways around “socially acceptable” excuses

Think it’s too cold to exercise? Good news. Exercise warms you up, and the harder and faster you go, the warmer you’ll be during and also after your workout.

Think it’s too dark? There’s no rules saying you can’t go for a walk in the evening or early morning. The street lights will still be on. Alternatively put the lamp on in your bedroom and do some pelvic floor exercises on the floor (think sit ups, crunches, bridge, bicycle crawls, burpees, lunges with the core engaged and high knee running on the spot, alternating with kicking your butt running on the spot).

Is it too wet and miserable outside for your comfort? See bedroom floor option (above) or find an indoor class you can get to at least weekly. Think yoga –  it’s available everywhere, just go searching, you’ll find one in your area (if you’re in Adelaide I teach $10 yoga classes weekly). Alternatively do yoga classes from Youtube tutorials – with a mate might me more fun). There’s group exercise classes at gyms if you can afford the membership – I love this option. Buy a few home exercise DVDs and work out in the comfort of your lounge room.

Exercise improves your breathing, blood flow (important for transport of immune cells) and improves sleep quality (and the better you sleep, the more time your immune system has to build itself up again for another day of fighting off bugs and viruses).

Action Steps

Stop complaining and start moving. Do something you love and if you get bored change it up. If motivation icier weakness, find a walking buddy or find a friend and join the gym together and make “appointments” with each other to get there at least twice a week for a class or some time on the machines.

Remain a Sleeping Beauty

That couch and TV remote is uber tempting (sorry I mean Netflix subscription – am I the only one yet to jump on this addictive digital bandwagon?) but the Zzzzzs is where it’s at!

The better rested we are, the better our body’s work. It’s that simple. If I do get sick, which is a rarity, it’s always because I’ve been deprived of sleep over a few consecutive nights. In the past 3 years I’ve only had 2 colds; one in year 12, at the end of our drama production week. We went straight on a camp to Melbourne on the Thursday night and stayed out late doing volunteer work on the city streets. I came down with a cold on the Saturday. The second was last year after the Wellness Summit. I’d had a gallstone attack the Friday night before the Summit, a late night on the Saturday and Sunday and then another gallstone attack on the Monday night. On the day I flew home my body crashed and burned. Stress and sleep seem to be the biggest players here.

Action Steps

Aim to hit the sack before 10:30 most nights and you should be all G. I like to have a bedtime routine. I switch on my salt lamp, place a crystal under my pillow, brush my teeth, do some stretches and hug Mamma T goodnight. I try not to check my phone right before I lie down and keep my bedroom nice and chilly; windows open, no heating on. The more I can snuggle up, the quicker I nod off. I also sleep nude which seems to work wonders for me. I’ll leave that one up to you to have a play with … or not.

Stress Less

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … Settle Petal 

What else did both those Melbourne trips have in common? Stress! It trumps everything. So where possible I try to keep a calm perspective, practise gratitude and use essential oils and yoga to keep myself afloat. Stress shuts the immune system and digestive system down. You don’t need these things to be firing when you’re running away from a safer-toothed tiger. What Tiger? You may ask. Well, these days it’s not a tiger, it’s a traffic jam or assignment deadline or argument with a family member, but our nervous system doesn’t differentiate … it just knows there’s a threat and prepares us to fight or flee the situation. You don’t need to digest food or fight infection in these desperate moments, so you body dulls down these functions. Not ideal, especially if these stressors remain.

Action Steps

If you can’t do anything about it immediately, write yourself a note and move on to something you can be productive with in the now. For example; If the internet is giving you a hard time, park that job and go chop veggies for dinner or sweep the kitchen floor.

Diffuse some essential oils or make up a spritzer (just a spray bottle with water and a few drops of your fave EO) and regularly spritz your face. Just smelling something calming like ylang ylang or clove bud oil (two of my faves) can change your physiological response. You can purchase immune boosting blends too to kill two birds with one stone.

Take time to stretch and breath. It’s hard to feel frazzled when your muscles are free of kinks and your lungs are full of air.

Keep a gratitude journal. I’ve heard around the place that it’s impossible to feel stressed and blessed at the same time. This sounds pretty spot on – give it a whirl.

So there you have it, some Action Steps for you to stay fighting fit this Winter. No real added expenses necessary – unless you decide to pay for that gym membership after all (which of course, is totally optional).

 

 

It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

If you’re listening to health-conscious thought-leaders and paying attention to the media sources daring to inform us of  inconvenient truths, then chances are you’re at least vaguely aware that we are living in a pretty toxic world.

There’s chlorine and heavy metals in our water supply.

Our cleaning and personal care products contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (dun-dun-dun), meaning that they bind to our hormone receptor sites so that our very own hormones can’t attach to these sites and elicit their intended effects.

Plastics also disrupt normal hormonal function and unfortunately going BPA-free won’t necessarily offer you protection … they’re replacing BPA with alternatives that aren’t all that safe either.

Then there’s car, bus, plane and train fumes. Off-gassing from factories and industry. Heck, even new carpets and furniture off-gas chemicals that disrupt our physiology.

Let’s not forget (as much as it’s tempting to) the pesticides, fungicides, herbicide, additives, preservatives, colourings and flavourings in the food supply.

FUCK-A-DUCK!

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, because thankfully our body’s are freakin-amazing and want to protect us from all of this chemical exposure. We just have to help them out.

It would be pretty depressing to think that we were powerless in all of this. That predicaments such as autoimmunity and cancer were inevitable and that we are merely at the mercy of our genetics.

Yes, all of us have some unfavourable genetic mutations, some worse than others no doubt. However it’s our environment – what we are exposed to each day, that really determines which genes are switched “on” and which genes are switched “off”.

I was talking to my cousins yesterday and I made a joke about how you virtually have to be a “crazy hippy” (like me), just to have a chance at thriving in this world. We sort of laughed about it, but did agree that’s it’s more or less the truth. There is definite merit to being a bit more “alternative” that your peers.

Below are some of the easiest ways to support your body so that when you are inevidably exposed to toxins; heavy metals, phalates parabens, pesticides etc. your body has the strength and reserves to detoxify, meaning that you have the best chance of avoiding the diseases currently plaguing modern society; autoimmunity and cancer being some of the biggest players.

Stress Less

Settle petal. Stress causes an acute inflammatory response that will sustain and become chronic unless you find ways to dull this heightened state of alertness. Some stress is good; the urgency to get an important task completed, the fatigue-inducing physical stress of a workout well-done. However, the inflammatory response of stress suppresses the immune system and sustains high cortisol levels – which can eventually cause adrenal fatigue and may contribute to unwanted fat storage. Some stress is inevitable and we can’t run away and live in a zen little bubble of tranquility (as much as living in a crystal cave or quirky treehouse is tempting, it’s probably not a reality for me right now, if ever!).

We can however, do little things to remedy this inevitable stress response. We can have periods of the day where we don’t check technology, ensure we enjoy regular belly laughs, take time out to breath and prioritise our chores; keeping lists and remaining organised so we have plans of attack and feel calm and in control. I don’t know about you but I reckon one of the best stress busters is a good morning routine; some stretching, a little exercise and a healthy brekkie before jumping into the rest of the day.

Use Essential Oils

Deodorants, perfumes, room sprays, air-fresheners and those plug-in wall thingy-majigs are dangerous little buggers. I’d bet you anything that the array of (goodness-knows-how-many) chemicals contained in these products explains, at least to some degree, the rise in lung cancer incidence, despite society’s overall decreased smoking prevalence. I’d also partially blame these sly products for our breast cancer epidemic  – along with pesky personal care and cleaning products; think moisturisers, cleansers, surface sprays, shampoos, conditioners, soaps and detergents. Phalates, one of the many classes of chemicals contained in such products, increases oestrogen levels in the body. Let’s keep in mind that breast cancer is generally an oestrogen-positive disease! Plus on top of this, pretty much all toxins bind to the proteins contained upon our own cells, altering their structure and making them appear to the immune system as foreign bodies … hello autoimmunity!

The solution: buy the most natural cleaning products on the market (Alexx Stuart has some great resources and advice for the safest brands). Switch to natural personal care and make-up brands. I’m not talking about the ones where they say “made with natural ingredients” or “enriched with avocado oil” but you turn the container over and it reads like a year 11 chemistry textbook. I mean brands such as twenty8 that don’t use ANY harmful ingredients at all. If you aren’t sure what qualifies as harmful, now is a great time to get researching and becoming your own empowered and knowledgable health advocate. As for smelling great, there are some fantastic toxin-free deodorants at the health food store (again, do your research to make sure you aren’t being seduced by scammy claims) and if smelling nice is all you’re after, look no further than a few dabs of essential oil on your perfume points (neck, wrists etc.). I also love vaporising essential oils in my home, either with an old-school candle burner or an electric diffuser – all natural, smells incredible, will calm the nervous system and beats hormone-disrupting commercial plug-ins any day! Buy a small glass spray bottle and fill with water and a few drops of your chosen essential oil, this can be used as a toilet spray, facial spritzer or carried in your handbag (or man-bag fellas) as a pick-me-up. In a pinch, a few drops of your fave essential oil on a tissue is a great rescue remedy when you’re out and about. I always have one in my pocket when I’m in the city and exposed to things like train, bus and cigarette pollution.

Move ‘dat Ass

Exercise baby! Endorphins, natural (safe) chemicals released into the bloodstream as we exercise (or have sex for that matter), down-regulate the inflammatory response. Regular movement also helps to release pent-up tension and anxieties – so it virtually has a double-whammy effect on boosting mood and taming the stress so notorious for making us sick. Get moving outdoors and you have the added benefit of sneaking in some sunlight for the all-important vitamin D (which isn’t a vitamin at all really but one of the most important hormones in the body, contributing to countless physiological processes). Adequate vitamin D levels are essential for preventing autoimmunity as, like movement, it helps to dull systemic inflammation and support optimal immunity.

Fucking Get On The #JERF Bandwagon 

Yes that F-bomb was necessary … this one is super-important! You see, food serves two purposes in maintaining good health. Firstly, properly nourished cells maintain their structural integrity, a vital part of self-tolerance (the immune system distinguishing your cells from foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria). Secondly, a diet full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fats and quality protein assists the body’s natural methods of detoxification. There’s another fantastic reason to eat as close to nature as possible. Here is Australia, our food supply contains an abundance of ingredients that quite frankly aren’t doing us any favours. There’s the glyphosate sprayed on wheat crops. This chemical depletes us of vital minerals and inhibits neurotransmitter production. The pesticides and herbicides sprayed on the grasses our animals eat, as well as the fresh produce we consume; think berries and greens, kill bugs – including our all important gut bugs. Then there’s the array of packaged foods we eat, most full of preservatives, colourings, flavourings etc., most of which come with health warnings when consumed in isolation, let alone when combined with several other additives in the one product. 

Priorities … Ideally we’d all have access to organic food (or as our grandparents called it; food) and be fortunate enough to sport the funds to afford it. Where possible, try to buy as much organic produce as you can afford, I’ll often go without other “luxuries” so that I can spend my cash on a big bunch of organic bananas or several heads of beautiful organic broccoli. The second best option is to stick to real food, even if you’re still getting a few sprays of pesticides here and there. When I say real food, I’m talking fresh fruits and veggies (wash or peel before use), nuts and seeds (raw and no vegetable oil added), fresh fish (oily is particularly nutritious as omega-3 fats are highly anti-inflammatory), grass-fed meat (there are heaps of butchers specialising in grass-fed meats these days), gluten-free whole grains (think buckwheat, rice, amaranth etc.), legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils etc.), cold-pressed oils (think olive, macadamia, coconut) and miscellaneous items such as pure sea or Himalayan salts, herbs, spices, raw cacao, spirulina, coconut water etc. 

It’s amazing how just getting rid of the packets and returning to good, honest, flavoursome REAL food can turn your health around super-duper fast. My health started to recover long before I went organic, even my fragile little system that had autoimmune-induced liver cirrhosis was able to handle a small amount of pesticides etc. I think all of the goodies in fresh fruits and veggies and the probiotic bacteria in foods such as coconut yoghurt and kombucha tea balanced things out a fair bit. 

See my transitioning to whole foods page for ideas on how to get back to a simpler and nutrient dense way of eating, without having to go cold turkey or feel at all deprived

Also, let’s not forget that a diet high in fibre works wonders for keeping the bowels regular. There’s a reason that taking a good, satisfying dump feels so euphoric. Your body is eliminating waste – the more you poo, the more toxins and dead cells you’re excreting. Yet another reason to favour antioxidant and fibre-loaded plant-based foods.

Sleep Your Cares Away

When we sleep our the immune system has time to recalibrate. Old cells slough off and new cells are produced in their place. Our nervous system gets to slow down and take a load off. Our digestive organs get a break from ingesting foods and liquids and have a chance to detoxify (ever wondered why you need to pee or take a dump first thing in the morning? That’s the body getting rid of the waste products from its overnight detox). Sleeping in a quiet, cool environment, away from bright lights (don’t even think about bringing that phone into the bedroom with you – leave it out in the kitchen or living room), will give your body a peaceful opportunity to completely switch off from it’s conscious state. Rejuvenation and repair are daily requirements and so much easier for our beautiful body’s to undertake if we let them be and give them the rest they deserve.

Have trouble sleeping? Try some calming essential oil drops on your pillow (I love roman chamomile, rosewood and sandalwood) or a calming cup of herbal tea; such as chamomile or ginger with raw organic honey. While we’re on the subject of beverages, if you know you’re sensitive to caffeine, even more mild forms such as green tea, avoid consumption after midday. When I was fifteen it took me months to figure out that it was my matcha smoothie and green tea habits keeping me awake for hours at night (whoops!).

A few more hints; separate your final meal for the day and bedtime by at least an hour – it’s super hard to fall asleep when your body is busy digesting. Magnesium spray can also be super-useful, just spray some on your calves and feet and rub into the skin. When all else fails, get into a comfortable position and read a book until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer. The latter is great if you’ve had a late dinner and need to start winding down but can’t lie flat straight away – it’s amazing how time flies when your read. Before you know it, your food is digested and you’re feeling mellow and sleepy.

So there we go … five lifestyle changes that can be the difference between falling ill and winning at life. Sure we live in a crazy, busy, chemical-laden world, but that doesn’t have to hinder our health nor define our gene expression. We can be strong and happy and healthy. We just have to eliminate the environmental triggers where we can, so that when things are beyond our control, our bodies can say “No problemo amigo! We got this, it’s all gonna be a-Okay!”

Aren’t our bodies just the bomb-diggity? I think YES!