Friday, 26 July 2013

Berry Blast

Did you know, that there are other berries apart from strawberries, blueberries and goose berries? In fact researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition (2008), have confirmed that "the dietary intake of berry fruits has a positive and profound impact on human health, performance and disease." From blackberry, black raspberry, cranberry, red raspberry, chokecherry, serviceberry, (oh yes!), silver buffaloberry, arctic bramble, bilberries, black currant, boysenberries, crowberries, elderberries, lingonberries, marionberries, rowanberries, açaìa berry to goji berries, the list is endless. 

The latter though is quite an exceptional berry, gojiberries (Lycium barbarum; also known as wolfberry) might as well be called nature's powerhouse. These berries are packed with antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene and zeaxanthin which is said to be a major contributor to protecting the eye retina. Furthermore, researchers say that if food sources rich with this mega antioxidant (zeaxanthin) are taken regularly (in moderation), the risk of getting age-related macular degenerate diseases (AMD) which leads to loss of vision in people over 65, could be reduced. 

Several research studies have shown that the antioxidants in goji, may assist in preventing the the growth of cancer cells, reducing blood glucose and also lower cholesterol levels. This awesome berry is said to also contain cyperone which is of benefit to people with high blood pressure and those with heart disease. Moreover, it has the ability to ease menstrual discomfort, and also assists in treating cervical cancer. Germanium is another compound in goji which is said to reduce the growth of tumors, reduces the risk of testicular, lung, liver, and uterine cancers. Basically goji is a powerful cancer fighter, and coupled with a healthy lifestyle, our food can be our medicine. Go ahead get yourself some berries!

*If you are taking blood thinners like warfarin, and diabetes or hypertension drugs, it is suggested to avoid goji berries as they react with the drugs. Nature works best without the interference of drug medication.

Sources: Center for Human Nutrition, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of Calafornia

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


On a daily basis our bodies are exposed to substances that ought not to enter, these harmful substances which often enter through the food we eat, the air we breathe and some of the household products we use act as toxins to our blood and encourage disease. With the pressure of having to deal with fast foods, preservatives, additives, refined food articles, and fertilizers our bodies deserve a break!

There are tons of juice fasts that are said to help eliminate toxins from the body, however; not all "detox" plans are safe. Try things that are in their most natural state like raw veggies, get yourself a juicer and try the recipe below. Be careful not to over do it. 

Detox recipe:
Juice 1 raw beet
Juice 5 carrots
Juice 1 Tbs fresh ginger
Juice 2 sprigs Celery
mix all the juices together and 
Squeeze 1/2 fresh lemon into the mixture
Drink the juice and watch the effects :) 

  1. Beets are a source of iron, niacin, folic acid, sodium, magnesium, Vit A, C are a great immune booster
  2. Carrots are one of the best sources for Vit A which when regularly taken can help with acne issues
  3. Celery has high fiber content thus helps in curbing colon cancer, promotes healthy elimination, and is high in antioxidants.
  4. Lemon is high in Vit C, balances PH, clears the skin, hydrates the lymph system, and is a natural diuretic.
  5. Ginger is known to some as the 'comforter' for it's soothing effect on the stomach, helps reduce morning sickness and alleviates the common cold

Monday, 15 July 2013

Use It, or Lose It!

In Maintaining optimum health, we often focus on the physical benefits of exercise, we gain good toned muscle when we exercise, exercise is good for the heart; it helps to maintain a desired weight, lowers high blood pressure, helps increase the body's immunity against common colds and flu, it has anti-aging effects, improves sleeping patterns, helps manage degenerative diseases and the list is endless, but suppose after long hard months of exercise we decide to relax? Yip as the saying goes, 'use it, or lose it.' 

If exercise does all these wonderful things for our bodies; how about a good dose of mental exercise? Health professionals claim that regular exercise "arouses the brain and slows down degeneration of the central nervous system." Since the very act of exercising increases blood flow to the brain and improves circulation to the heart and the different parts of the body, the activity is said to encourage growth of nerve cells in the part of the brain involved in memory.

Neurologist Bernard Croisile mentions that the mind has 5 main cognitive functions namely memory, attention, language, visual-spatial skills and executive function. These need to be challenged by exercising all 5 areas in order to stay mentally sharp. Croisile suggests a few ways to keep our brain active, among which he mentions that in order to improve memory we need to read (good spiritual material) and also 'think big.' Croisile claims that using our opposite hand to brush our teeth, helps build new associations between different neural connections in the brain. 

Furthermore, to improve our attention span, he advises that when we change routines like using a different direction to work, or re-organizing your desk, the brain breaks the habit of routines and re-focuses again (learning new things). Listening to an audio book (or classical music) while exercising or doing math, helps the brain to learn how to focus on doing two or more tasks simultaneously.

With the emergence of technology, social plugins, and media, many people hardly read, write or communicate effectively. Our irritability and stress levels have gone up, our patience levels have gone down and we look for anything that will make things easier and faster. So we chat on our phones and on the internet but 'forget' to use proper language and as a result our memory, grammar, fluency skills and vocabulary is affected.

It is recommended that one ought to try reading different material and get exposure to new (clean) words, if we don’t understand some of the words, we can make use of the dictionary thus improve our language skills. There you have it! exercise = brain power, so no more trouble memorizing those Bible verses, study and exam material. Exercise your body, exercise your mind. 

Sources: Bernard Croisile, M.D. PhD. Neuropsychology
S. Erasmus

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Give Your Hair Some TLC

Let’s admit it, winter is just one of those best months where we get to gear up with our very best coats and enjoy that warm cup of ‘boontjiesop’ (bean soup)…perhaps not, usually winter is the worst time for our fragile hair. So give it some TLC will ya! All of us want to have good looking hair. Shiny, bulky, kinky and healthy looking tresses don’t come on a silver platter.

Something interesting about those tresses is that it begins right at our plates. Genetics of course play a major role, nonetheless the healthier you are, the healthier will your hair be also. Ever heard of the quote “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap?” Factors such as hormonal imbalances, stress, the environment, nutrition, and our lifestyle among others have an impact on the general health of our hair.

Wash your hair using castile soap, it’s less harsh on your hair and is in its most natural form without the chemicals. Deep condition your hair, and make use of protective hair styles like plaiting your hair with comfortable, non-heavy plaits. Avoid pulling your hair, use wide toothed combs and gently massage your scalp to assist with blood circulation. Keep your hair moisturized, avoid overdoing it though, and avoid grease, as your hair also needs to breathe (oxygen).

So now we’re geared up! Not quite, nutrients like biotin, Vit. E, copper, (H2O) water, zinc, iron, Vit C, folate, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids are what your hair needs to survive. Food articles like walnuts, flaxseed, spinach, broccoli carrots, sweet potatoes, lentils, berries, seeds, oranges and onion amongst others, give your hair what it needs to survive harsh winter conditions as well as any other.

Remember our hair reflects our lifestyle, live healthier, have healthier hair --- Happy winter!!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Get a Boost, Go Nuts!!

These nuts are considered amongst nature's most powerful brain boosters. Walnuts are power packed with omega 3 fatty acids which help promote healthy brain function. Omega 3 also helps to boost memory, assists in healthy brain function and "counteracting age-related cognitive decline." Research proves that these wonder nuts also help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's reduce cholesterol levels and also protects your heart. A special property in walnuts called lecithin, produces neurotransmitters which help with faster "signal transmission of brain cells." Is it no wonder the nut resembles a mini-brain?

Having mood swings? Almonds are proven to support neurological function; they have a high content of Arginine, a powerful property which assists the brain in dealing with anxiety and has a calming effect. Another chemical within the almond is Phenylanine, this aids the brain in producing hormones that stabilize our mood. These nuts also have a high riboflavin content which helps improve memory.

Amongst its predecessors, the cashew nut is one of the most essential nuts in the entire nut kingdom. Cashews are rich in magnesium, a property which is said to open blood vessels by promoting a gush of oxygen rich blood. Oxygen in the blood is promoted by doing vigorous exercise.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Why Africans hate Cabbage--Never say Never!!

For most of us Africans, the word "cabbage" doesn't only nauseate us, but it has an almost inherited hatred, well at least in the context of South Africa, and it's mostly because our mothers, especially our grandmothers used to make cabbage part of almost every meal at home. What we ignorantly regarded as 'yukee!!' is actually a powerful health preserving vegetable.

Cabbage is a low calorie, nutrient-dense food that offers an excellent source of Vit. C, folic acid, potassium, Vitamin B6, calcium (Yip!!), biotin, magnesium and manganese. Along with its nutrient content, cabbage also contains powerful phytochemicals and anti-cancer compounds known as glucosinolates. One of the dietary recommendations from the American Cancer Society is to regularly include cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower in the diet. The main reason for this recommendation is due to the content of a large amount of phytochemicals within the cabbage family. 

Studies have shown the higher the intake of the cabbage family vegetables, the lower the rates of cancer, especially breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancers. Experts claim that  the  glucosinolates in cabbage, function by increasing the antioxidant defense mechanisms, and also improves the body's ability to  detoxify and eliminate harmful chemicals and hormones. Furthermore studies have shown that cabbage is extremely effective in the treatment of peptic ulcers. 

Our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers must have known the secret to Optimum Health, beauty and vitality :) Next time you're offered a cabbage --Never say NEVER!!!

Source: Murray , Michael N.D. The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods.
New York: Atria Books, 2005.
Centers For Disease Control And Prevention-5 A Day.
National Agricultural Library-USDA.
Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia