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How to start exercising after recovering from scoliosis surgery (or any other surgery)

Scoliosis Handbook

At its simplest, scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. It looks like an ​S shape​. There are four common types:

  • Right thoracic curve – curve to the right (thoracic) upper back.
  • Right thoraco-lumbar curve – curve bends to the right of the thoracic down to the lumbar (lower back).
  • Right lumbar curve – curve bends to the right of the lumbar.
  • Double major curve – usually a curve to the right at the thoracic and left at the lumbar.

Diagnosis includes bending over to touch the toes and checking to see how symmetrical the spine appears plus X-ray, CT scan and MRI.

Signs of scoliosis as advised by the NHS include:

  • A visibly curved spine
  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder or hip sticking out

Scoliosis HandbookTreatment for scoliosis includes wearing a brace to help straighten the spine which can work, depending on the stage of the curvature, or surgery. If the spine develops a severe curve, this can cause pain, while also putting pressure on the heart, lungs and other organs. Physiotherapy, exercise and massage can also alleviate pain before and after surgery.

Starting to exercise again after scoliosis surgery can be daunting for many people. How far do you push your body and how quickly? It is easy to have lost confidence in your ability to judge your body especially if you have been out of action for months.

My guidelines for returning to exercise are based on recovery after scoliosis spinal fusion surgery but the general principles can be applied to anyone who has had fusion surgery, for example damaged discs, or indeed any other condition.

The idea after scoliosis surgery is to build up back muscles gently.

According to the surgeon from my third surgery, the general rule is to lift no more than 5 kilos with free weights.

Starting back to exercise

PAIN

You should not feel pain during exercise at all. If there is any pain in the joints – back, neck, hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists – stop what you are doing immediately. Gentle muscle pain after two days is normal in, for example, the quads (thighs), glutes (bottom) and abs (stomach). It is not normal not to be able to walk, or to have terrible neck and shoulder pain or to be in agony. If this happens, either the exercise was performed incorrectly or you have overdone it, or that exercise is definitely not for you. Do not over-push yourself at any time after scoliosis surgery. Initially, fatigue sets in quickly, so always make sure there is a rest time when the session is finished. Chill out for at least 30 minutes afterwards.

Always be aware of your posture and body alignment. Head, neck, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, ankles and toes should follow each other. A tip is to look down or check yourself in the mirror. Are your knees pulling together or your toes positioned inwards? Knees should be front facing or slightly outwards and toes positioned between 11am and 1pm OR 10am and 2pm.

With my clients, I operate what I call ‘exercise allergy awareness’

EXERCISE ALLERGY AWARENESS

  • Start with one gentle exercise
  • Start with low repetitions
  • Wait for two to three days
  • If you feel no pain at all after two to three days, continue with the first exercise and add a second
  • Wait another two to three days
  • If you feel no pain at all, add a third exercise to your routine
  • Wait another two to three days
  • If you feel no pain at all, add a fourth exercise, and so on … If you do feel pain, which at its maximum should be no more than gentle muscle pain, you will now be aware that a particular exercise is to be avoided – just like a food allergy.
Caroline Freedman
Caroline Freedman, author of The Scoliosis Handbook

Regular exercise will really help to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your spine, keeping them strong. As a result, posture will improve and you will look and feel so much better. It is a case of listening to recommendations from the consultant, physiotherapist and your body as to what may be comfortable to do.

Always consult your GP, consultant or physiotherapist before starting to exercise again.

Blog post written by Caroline Freedman, author of The Scoliosis Handbook, coming soon to Hammersmith Health Books. For more information about Caroline or the book, visit her website: https://www.scoliosishandbook.com/ or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

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Celebrating the Healing Power of Garlic

The healing power of garlic

19th April marks National Garlic Day. To celebrate, we thought we would take some time to acknowledge the healing power of this versatile plant. Below is an excerpt from Nature Cures, a book by NH Hawes.

Garlic (Allium Sativa)

Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. Ancient Egyptians appear to have been the first to cultivate this plant and it had an important role in their culture. It was revered and placed in the tombs of Pharoahs and also given to the slaves that built the Pyramids too enhance their endurance and strength.

The garlic bulb is a natural antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal, cleanser and antioxidant and aids the body’s natural ability to resist disease. Garlic has been used for expelling intestinal worms and parasites from ancient times by the Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Babylonians. It is a natural anthelmintic and is especially useful against giardia, leishmania, plasmodium roundworms and trypanosomes.

Tips on Using Garlic

  • Always add crushed or chopped garlic at the end of cooking a meal to retain the powerful properties that prolonged heat can destroy
  • Never store garlic in oil at room temperature as this provides the perfect conditions for producing botulism, regardless of whether the garlic is fresh or has been roasted.
  • Garlic should be avoided by persons diagnosed with lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus)

Ailments Garlic Can Help to Treat and Protect Against

  • Anaemia
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bacterial infections
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Colds
  • Colitis
  • Colon Cancer
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fever
  • Food poisoning
  • Herpes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Influenza
  • Liver disorders
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Parasites and worms
  • Poor circulation
  • Prostate disorders
  • Renal cancer
  • Toothache
  • Tumours
  • Whooping cough
  • And many more…

To learn more about garlic and other natural food remedies, check out Nature Cures by NH Hawes.

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Q&A with Alex Wu, author of A User’s Manual for the Human Body

Alex Wu’s new book, A User’s Manual for the Human Body is a transformative guide to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The book shows how Traditional Chinese Medicines differ from Western medicine and what that means in practice. It also illustrates how we can help our bodies to heal themselves and thereby achieve a longer, healthier life. Here, Alex answers a few questions about his lifestyle, which is the basis for his book.

Alex Wu
Alex Wu, author of A User’s Manual for the Human Body

Can you describe your current lifestyle? How many hours per night do you sleep?

I am 66 years old so my regime might not be the same as people in different age groups. I sleep at 10pm and I wake up normally around 6am. I do the pericardium massage when I wake up in the morning and at night time, I practice the bladder meridian massage (Both the hair combing and back massage). I do the gallbladder massage (leg) after dinner. I try to walk at least an hour a day during the day time and I pay attention to the amount of clothes that I wear to avoid getting a cold.

Describe your diet. What do you eat? Are there any foods that you avoid?

There is no specific food that I eat or avoid but the general rule is I try to eat as little processed food as possible. To avoid cold energy, I do not eat anything raw except for fruits. The fruits that I eat are the ones that are in season.

What exercise do you do?

I exercise mainly through walking and I practice Tai-Chi occasionally.

What was your life like before you started practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine? What aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine that was most impactful?

Before I was ill, I worked well over 60 hours a week under high pressure. I was an investment banker in China back in the 1990s. I wouldn’t say that my regime was changed because of TCM but rather TCM concepts let me understand what type of harm this regime was causing to my body. I quit my job and it changed everything.

In your book, you talk about the Qi and the TCM concept of blood. How would you explain that to a Western audience?

An analogy I often use when describing qi to those who do not have a deep cultural understanding of the concept is that the body is a battery. Blood is the equivalent of the battery’s capacity and qi is the amount of energy currently stored in the battery. It would logically follow that the amount of qi you can have is limited by the amount of blood you have. This relationship between blood and qi is important if we are to understand how to improve our health. Because the quantity of qi a person can have is determined by the amount of blood the person has, the focus of healthy living should be to increase the amount of blood in the body.

To learn more about A User’s Manual for the Human Body, watch Alex Wu’s explanation video on YouTube here and here.

You can purchase the book from Hammersmith Health Books. The paperback is now on special offer for £9.99 and the ebook is £5.99.

A User's Manual for the Human Body

 

 

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Best Gifts for Expectant Mothers

As a highly experienced community midwife and teacher, Bridget Sheeran knows that pregnancy should be a time for vital physical and mental preparation. The body and mind do much of this automatically, but there are many ways to support this process and to resist the day-to-day stresses that can hinder it. In her book, Preparing for Birth: Colouring Your Pregnancy Journey, Bridget invites pregnant women to allow their natural curiosity to rise up and lead them to discover how they can help themselves through the process of birth. If you’re looking for a great gift for an expectant mother, ditch the helpful advice books and instead, get her something that will be truly appreciated.

Here is a review from an expectant mum who recently received Bridget’s book:

I was on my own in New York City, pregnant, working two jobs and facing winter. It was a pretty daunting time.

People were so quick to recommend all manner of books I should read about pregnancy and birth and childcare that just trying to jot down the names was exhausting. It often felt that if someone recommended a book one day with one approach, the following day someone else would mention a different book with a completely opposite way of doing things. Put babies on their back. Put them on their tummy. Don’t let them cry. Do let them cry. Let them sleep with you. Don’t let them sleep with you. Do various forms of exercise before childbirth. Keep away from precisely those activities. It felt that if I started buying books I could disappear down a rabbit hole of conflicting advice so, in the end, I didn’t buy a single one.

When I was given Bridget’s book as a gift, I dutifully opened the wrapping paper and expressed kindest thanks to the giver for such a thoughtful present, all the while thinking that it was highly unlikely I’d end up reading whatever was inside. So as not to be rude, I opened the book and immediately fell in love with the whole idea. A colouring book. Blooming marvellous. The perfect thing for banishing anxious thoughts and conflicting messages. How was this not the go-to gift for expectant mothers?

As the pregnancy progressed and I stole quiet moments to colour in the charming pages, I found that I had my own instincts on how this would all play out. I just needed to create the space to let those thoughts form and flow and setting aside time for colouring and a cup of tea was the perfect catalyst. The tranquility of mind that comes with something as simple as colouring in cannot be underestimated and I’ll be buying Bridget’s book in future for anyone growing a little human. 

You can purchase Bridget’s book from Hammersmith Health Books for £9.99

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Q&A with Iida van der Byl-Knoefel, author of A Kitchen Fairytale

A Kitchen Fairytale

We talked to inflammatory arthritis sufferer Iida van der Byl Knoefel about her new cookbook, A Kitchen Fairytale. Iida beat the symptoms of her crippling condition through cooking. Her book explains how switching to a plant-based diet left her free of inflammation. Her food is not only a boost for arthritis sufferers but can also help those with autoimmune conditions. Her book, A Kitchen Fairytale, is out on November 1. 

What was the inspiration behind your book? 

My greatest inspiration and motivation was to let others know that the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis can indeed be reversed through a change of diet; and to show what a delicious and enjoyable option it is!  I have always loved cooking but knew nothing about being plant-based when I first joined the Paddison Program, so when I discovered how lovely these very humble recipes were, I started writing them all down to be able to go back and make them again.  My friends and family who tried the food often asked for ideas so I kept collecting the recipes, so I could easily share them, and soon I realised I had a cookbook on my hands!

Tell us how a plant-based diet has helped you manage your arthritis? 

In very simple terms, it has helped heal my gut and restore it to good order, which keeps any symptoms away.  For me, getting this far was no walk in the park though and it required a lot of focus and determination.  I rigorously followed the steps on the Paddison Program because simply going plant-based wouldn’t have cut it; neither would I have known why I got sick in the first place!

What was the most challenging part of writing the book?  

Getting the measurements right!  To achieve the same result every time I had to learn to measure all the spices, get the exact right amount of fruit and veg etc. which was very different from my usual way of cooking, where I just experiment my way through a dish!

A Kitchen Fairytale

What has been the most satisfying part of the writing process? 

Getting feedback on the dishes from those who have kindly test-run recipes for me.  Having someone take a photo and send it over with a happy review is the most amazing feeling!

Did anything surprise you while writing A Kitchen Fairytale?  

The process of writing A Kitchen Fairytale has more or less taken three years, ever since I joined the Paddison Program.  During that time, I have found that the attitude towards eating plant-based foods has changed profoundly here in the UK. People have become really interested in trying plant-based foods and lots of people have even converted completely to this way of eating.  When I initially started out, it was very hard to find a vegan option on restaurant menus and I would often bring my own food when we went out to eat, or when we visited friends.  These days, it is very easy to find delicious vegan food out, and my friends have become more confident in cooking things that I am also able to have.  This has motivated me further in getting the book ready, because I know that many people want to get started but haven’t quite found the right inspiration. Hopefully A Kitchen Fairytale will help them on the way!

A Kitchen Fairytale
Breakfast of ryebread with avocado and lettuce, and porridge with persimmon and nuts

What sort of people would benefit most by reading your book? 

I would like to say that it would be most beneficial for a certain group of people, but if we follow the advice from plant-based health professionals around the world, we will find that eating this way has enormous health benefits for people all over.  These types of recipes can in fact reverse or prevent many common illnesses – illnesses that we currently may think are part of getting older, but that don’t necessarily have to be.  This is what makes this book suitable for everyone!  However, since I wrote the book while recovering from inflammatory arthritis, there is a fair bit of focus on my story, so people who have also been on the Paddison Program may recognise their own journey in the book, so it is very much suited for someone who is/has been on the program.

What’s your favourite recipe in the book? 

That changes all the time!  An all-time favourite is the ‘Sunshiny pancakes’ which I often make at the weekend and serve with fresh fruit, berries and coconut yoghurt.  Now, with the proper autumn chill setting in, I have found myself making the ‘Sweet and easy yellow split-pea stew’ for supper a fair few times – it is just so incredibly delicious and comforting, so it is definitely a favourite!

A Kitchen Fairytale

We are giving away a copy of Iida’s fabulous new book, A Kitchen Fairytale, on our Instagram account! To win a copy of her book, just do the following: 1) Follow @HHealthBooks and @akitchenfairytale on Instagram . 2) Like this post. 3) Tag a friend in a comment. Tag as many pals as you want to get more entries. Good luck! Winner picked on Monday 22 October. UK only. 

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Eating the rainbow part 2: The health benefits of the nutrients that colour foods

health-benefits-of-the-nurtients-that-colour-food

The following list of nutrients in foods, that produce their colours, is by no means complete as more are being discovered all the time.  However, it provides the reader with some reasons why the consumption of colourful foods is vital for ultimate health.

Anthocyanins (blue to black)
Anthocyanins are a water-soluble bioflavonoid pigment and the colour will depend on the pH of the solution they are in. They are red when the pH is below three (highly acid), blue at pH ghihger than 11 (very alkali) and violet a neutral pH 7.
Bioflavoniods have been found to help slow down age-related motor changes, such as those seen in Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, prevent the oxidisation of certain compounds and fight attacks on the body from harmful chemicals.
They also increase vitamin C levels within cells, decrease the breakage of small blood vessels, protect against free-radical damage and help prevent destruction of collagen by helping the collagen fibres link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix. They also reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity due to the reduction of retinol-binding-protein-4 so are useful in preventing diabetes and can help with treating obesity.

Anthoxanthins (cream and white)
Anthoxanthins are water-soluble pigments which range from white or colourless to a creamy yellow and red, often in the petals of flowers. These pigments are generally whiter in an acid medium and yellower in an alkaline medium. Consuming foods rich in anthoxanthins has been found to reduce stroke risk, promote heart health, prevent cancer and reduce inflammation.

  • Those undergoing treatment for complex corneal diseases, whose underlying eye health condition is caused or aggravated by inflammation, might find increased symptom relief by including more anthoxanthin-rich foods in their diets.

Astaxanthin (red)
Astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant to man and is capable of crossing the blood/brain barrier to protect the brain cells from free radicals. It also increases the activity of the liver enzymes that detoxify carcinogens and stimulates and enhances the immune system.

Betalains (orange and yellow and blue to black)
Betalains are found in the petals of flowers, but may colour the fruits, leaves, stems and roots of plants that contain them. Betalains are aromatic indole derivatives synthesised from the amino acid (building block of proteins) tyrosine. There are two categories, Betacyanins (red to violet) and Betaxanthins (yellow to orange). Betalains provide a higher antioxidant value than most other vegetables containing beta-carotene and have anti-inflammatory anti-cancer and detoxifying properties and support the making of red blood cells.

Health benefits of betaxanthins

  • Stop the spread of cancerous tumours
  • Prevent diseases of liver, kidney and pancreas
  • Help reduce ulcers in the stomach
  • Strengthen the lungs and immune system
  • Improve vision and are good for treating eye redness
  • Reduce pain after intense physical training and also menstrual pain
  • Eliminate hard stools and prevent constipation
  • Positively affect the colon
  • Regulate high blood pressure
  • Eliminate bad breath
  • Help to treat acne and create healthy skin.

Health benefits of betaxanthins

  • Can cross the blood-brain, eye and spinal barriers to help arrest free-radical damage in cell membranes, mitochondria and DNA
  • Enhance immune cell strength and antibody activity
  • Improve gastrointestinal health
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Help to maintain peak performance in athletes
  • Protect the heart.

Carotenoids (deep green, yellow, orange and red)
The carotenoids are a group of more than 700 fat-soluble nutrients. Many are proving to be very important for health. They are categorised as either xanthophylls or carotenes according to their chemical composition. These compounds have the ability to inhibit the growth of many pre-cancerous tumours.

  • Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Alphacarotene, betacarotene and cryptoxanthin are types of carotenoids, and the body can convert all of these to vitamin A which helps keep the immune system working properly and it is needed for eye health.
  • Other types of carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin and, when consumed regularly, protect the retina from damage caused by the sun’s harmful UV rays and high-energy visible light. Lutein and zeaxanthin can also reduce the risk of cataracts later in life.
  • These antioxidants also have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from the harmful effects of free radicals.
  • Lutein can also help to reduce the risk of breast cancer and heart disease and supports healthy skin, tissue, blood and the immune system.
  • Lycopene is the bright red carotenoid that is found in fruits and vegetables. Consuming lycopene regularly helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, cancers of the prostate, stomach, lungs and breast, and osteoporosis, and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which prevents heart disease.

Chalcones (yellow), Chlorophyll (green), Curcumin (yellow), and Flavins (pale-yellow and green fluorescent) are further nutrients founds in foods that produce their colours. For more information on these nutrients, you can purchase the book here.

This extract was taken from “Nature’s Colour Codes” from the Nature Cures pocketbook series by Nat H Hawes.

 

 

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Pumpkin Power: Your Halloween Health Kick

Pumpkin Recipes

It’s the one and only time of year where we see hundreds of pumpkins lining supermarket shelves and garden paths, often with a rather wicked smile grinning back at you. But don’t be fooled, they’re actually one of the greatest superfoods out there. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of zinc, which works wonders for the human body by improving the immune system, preventing osteoporosis and reducing cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds are also a fantastic source of protein, fibre and magnesium. They help with weight loss, relaxation and increased fertility in both men and women, and their high levels of L-tryptophan make them an effective mood booster – particularly useful as the cold weather sets in!

Extracted from her book, Love Your Bones, Max Tuck provides two delicious recipes to help you make the most of this Halloween superfood:

 

Pumpkin seed pesto

In this recipe pumpkin seeds replace the traditional pine nuts that can be so very expensive. For optimum nutrition and digestibility it is important to soak the pumpkin seeds for a few hours beforehand.

  • In a food processor mix all of the following to a smooth paste:

½ cup soaked pumpkin seeds

¼ cup water

The juice of ½ lemon

Optional: splashes of tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos to taste

A medium clove of garlic

¼ cup of cold-pressed olive oil

 

  • Separately, chop a medium-sized bunch of fresh basil leaves very finely. Stir them into the pumpkin seed mixture or pulse for a second.
  • Serve the pesto stirred into pasta, preferably into ‘courgette pasta’ made from thin shavings of courgette cut with a potato peeler.

 

Pumpkin seed and walnut loaf

2 cups pumpkin seeds, soaked for six to eight hours

2 cups walnuts, soaked overnight

1 cup carrot, chopped

1 cup red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 cup dried mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon raw tahini (optional)

Sprig of parsley to garnish

 

  • Process the pumpkin seeds, walnuts and carrot in a food processor until smooth. Remove and place in a bowl.
  • Pulse the remaining ingredients except the parsley together in a food processor until they are of a chunky consistency. Place in the bowl with the pumpkin seed mixture and combine thoroughly.
  • Place on a serving dish and mould into the desired shape. Garnish with parsley.

 

These recipes were taken from Love Your Bones by Max Tuck.

 

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The ‘D’ Word: Rethinking Dementia

When the brain is affected by dementia, logical thinking and reasoning ability are affected quite early on. However, the amygdala – the part of the brain that is the integrative centre for emotions, emotional behaviour, and motivation – is less affected. People with dementia (PwD) who have trouble processing logic and reasoning do not have a similar problem with their ability to feel emotion. Indeed, as far as research can show, people with dementia still feel happy, sad, afraid and so on, even after they can no longer speak or recognise people they know well, even when they need total support to live their lives. It seems, though, that most people – including many well-meaning carers – are unable to adjust their own behaviour and thinking to accommodate the continuance of emotional experience, along with the decrease in reasoning ability of the person they care for.

If someone has a broken leg we do not assume that they could walk on it ‘if they tried’. We do not suggest that they listen very carefully whilst we explain how to walk. We do not try to divert their attention so that they can walk without thinking. No. Instead we set the broken bone and maintain it in position with support (a leg-plaster). We allow them to rest the leg. We give them a crutch to aid movement and we accept that walking will be slow and difficult until the leg is healed. Similarly, if someone has part of their brain which is not functioning we should make allowances. We should try to keep the parts of the brain that do function in as good order as possible – by encouraging social interaction, physical exercise and general health. We should allow the brain to ‘rest’ when it needs to by not demanding actions which are no longer essential. We should supply a ‘crutch’ using memory aids, providing unobtrusive help and support. We accept that everything cannot be as it once was because this brain is not what it once was.

It is important, though, that society should recognise the relative importance of the emotions which come to predominate when logical thought and thought processing are deteriorating. Society in general does not much like domination by the emotions. ‘Civilised’ people should learn to control emotion and apply logic and reason to manage their everyday life, it is thought. But what if we can no longer use our logic and reasoning to help us come to terms with emotions? Suppose we are unable to understand and work out why we feel sad or happy? Imagine if we feel these emotions overwhelmingly, but we are unable to deal with them by a change of scene, by talking through our feelings, by taking actions to alleviate the misery or express the happiness. Imagine being no longer able to speak coherently enough to tell anyone how frightened you feel or how angry. What might you do? How might you try to express yourself? Perhaps you would try to hide somewhere, or to run away and escape. Or you might shout and get angry. Perhaps if no one made any effort to understand, you might try to use physical methods to show them how you feel.

This blog is taken from The ‘D’ Word: Rethinking Dementia by Mary Jordan and Dr Noel Collins

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Eating Your Way to Better Brain Health

brain, food, health, diet

Brain food

There are some nutrients that are worthy of separate mention in relation to the central nervous system. The living foods diet will be high in all of these nutrients, but the following, in my opinion, are worth additional overview.

Thiamine-containing foods

Your brain relies on thiamine (vitamin B1) to produce neurotransmitters, which are needed to send messages throughout your nervous system. Without adequate thiamine, people can experience brain-related symptoms such as loss of memory and even brain damage. Conventional eaters are usually told to eat cereals and grains that are minimally processed, such as whole-wheat breads or brown rice, and to eat fortified cereals. However, always looking for ways in which to upgrade, I prefer the sources found in a living foods regime, in which the sprouted small grains such as quinoa, amaranth and teff serve your needs. Soaked nuts and sprouted legumes are also good dietary sources.

Potassium-containing foods

Your brain relies on potassium to generate the chemical reactions that create energy and allow your brain cells to communicate. If you don’t get enough potassium in your daily diet, you can experience symptoms such as mental confusion and even an irregular heartbeat. Fruits and vegetables tend to be highest in potassium; we all think of bananas as being high in potassium, but all the dark green foods are great sources.

Zinc-containing foods

Your body requires zinc each day to improve your memory and keep you thinking clearly, and a good source is soaked pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin seed butter. Eating a handful of these seeds, ideally soaked before eating them, can give you all the zinc you need to boost your brain power. Sprouted lentils and chick peas (garbanzo beans) are also good sources of zinc. See how easy it is?

High-calcium foods

While you may think of calcium as a mineral that strengthens your bones and teeth, your brain requires calcium to transmit nerve signals. On the living foods diet we are never thinking about dairy products as a source of calcium, so remember that dark green leafy foods such as kale will give you plenty of calcium, as will raw tahini.

Magnesium-containing foods

Magnesium, a crucial dietary mineral, helps maintain proper cardiovascular system function, affects energy metabolism and plays a part in bone health. Magnesium also helps maintain the health of the nervous system. In their book, Psychiatric Side Effects of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications: Recognition and Management, doctors Thomas Markham Brown and Alan Stoudemire report that magnesium has an inhibitory effect on certain neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals responsible for signal transmission between nerve cells. Specifically, magnesium helps with the manufacture of dopamine, which has a calming effect on the brain. As previously stated, any food rich in chlorophyll, such as the dark leafy greens, will provide plenty of magnesium.

Severe magnesium deficiencies have previously been considered to be uncommon in developed nations, because so many available foods contain magnesium. However, many people do not regularly get adequate magnesium from their diet, and it is now thought that up to 80 per cent of the population may be deficient in this mineral. A magnesium deficiency can have a profound impact on the functioning of the nervous system. Low levels of magnesium are associated with symptoms of anxiety, irritability, agitation insomnia and confusion, according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre. A review published in the December 1992 issue of the journal Magnesium Research reported that magnesium deficiency can result in neurological symptoms such as hyperexcitability, convulsions and a number of psychiatric symptoms, ranging from apathy to psychosis. Magnesium deficiency may also cause seizures. ME Morris, the author of the study, suggests that some of these symptoms may be reversed with magnesium supplementation.

Magnesium supplementation may help disorders associated with the nervous system. A study published in the October 2004 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reports that magnesium supplementation, combined with vitamin B-6, helped to correct symptoms of hyperexcitability, including aggression and inattention, in children. All 52 study participants experienced benefits from magnesium and vitamin B-6 treatment. A 2006 study in the journal Medical Hypotheses, reported several case studies in which magnesium supplementation benefited patients suffering from ‘major depression, traumatic brain injury, headache, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, postpartum depression, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco abuse, hypersensitivity to calcium, short-term memory loss and IQ loss’. That’s a wide range of effects, indicating just how widespread this mineral is in its biochemical reactions.

The key with magnesium supplementation is to ensure that it is bioavailable (that is, that your body can absorb and make use of it). If you are not eating sufficient leafy greens, not drinking sufficient green juices and not using wheatgrass juice regularly, or have been shown to be deficient on blood testing, I suggest using a transdermal magnesium spray for best absorption.

This blog was taken from ‘The Whole Body Solution: The Complete Guide to Ultimate Health and Anti-ageing’, by Max Tuck.

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10 Ways to Colour Your Pregnancy Journey with Love

Midwife Bridget Sheeran has just released her first adult colouring book for pregnant mums. To help you get the most out of the book we’ve put together these ten top tips for using the book on your pregnancy journey.

  1. Notice and enjoy the touch of the book in activity! The good quality paper, colourful & unique hard cover design. Press the double page images flat in the centre of the page – no need to worry about felt pens seeping through; coffee spills on the cover; children pulling and tearing the cover or pictures of real life birth of other women’s shapes, colour, babies and sizes!
  2. Bridget has made it easy to just go ahead and start. The introduction invites you to consider the book as a handy companion with all the best intentions of a midwife there to put into your bag and to take it anywhere with you on your pregnancy journey.
  3. Look at the posed essential questions at the end of the introduction, and with the wishes of an experienced midwife – go ahead, take the time it takes and find your own answers for this birth. If your ‘brain feels tired’ be inspired by the index at the back explaining each image and take what you need from that, not forgetting to add you own ideas.
  4. Genuine, good intentions from Bridget’s best wishes are there for you from woman to woman, to discover and keep. Turn the pages and indulge with the child-like qualities of learning new things – with colours and fun! This can seriously change your way of engaging with the ‘usual’ approach to childbirth and learning, and bring new skills such as ‘letting go’ and ‘jumping straight in’ – like the beginnings of birth, and positively stepping into the unknown.
  5. Interacting with the images and the positive messages about birth and you, will lead you to discoveries of yourself plus whom is connecting with you right now – today – to help you, as others have been helped before. Busy lives can prevent us from ‘taking stock’ of who we need around us and who we have nearby…use the book to consider what Mother Nature shows us to do, such as to listen within, appreciate who cares and connect with both.
  6. Some days are ‘sloppy-jo’ days for resting and yet there will come a day when you feel great and ready to get up and MOVE – the colouring in of Dancing Mamas the evening before contemplating an exercise class or a walk locally can motivate you take that step, knowing there are friends and fun to be had in this healthy pursuit.
  7. Using the small actions of colouring in – literally at your fingertips, you use what’s called right-brain activity. This benefits you, because not only does it bring a sense of calm to your day, but also it is what Nature herself has prescribed for you – in preparation, as your baby grows and for taking care of yourself while pregnant and for afterwards, mothering the baby.
  8. In your own time, before or during antenatal classes, this book can help you consider your questions through the prompting of Bridget’s words and images. It may make you think differently about what perhaps you can do for yourself in preparation, to use your body well and to get your baby down (and out) however you give birth. You can discover how well designed your body actually is – or find out through specific birth classes what skills you need eg flexibility of your joints or pain coping practices.
  9. Pass on what you notice about yourself and Birth to other children, using this book – have fun conversations about the colouring, nature’s way and your growing family.
  10. Focus on your physical and emotional needs now, and this will help you after the birth, because you will have already found what works for you or what is needed. Your resources do include the people nearest you, and the birth workers (midwives & doulas) to help your birth recovery and for you to become the woman you want to be after the birth.

Buy Preparing for Birth: colouring your pregnancy journey by Bridget Sheeran, and let us know your favourite ways to stay mindful and calm during pregnancy on twitter.