natural living a-z...

A  AN APPLE A DAY. There may well be some truth to the age-old saying. Apples contain pectin, a type of fibre that helps prevent protein matter from putrefying in the intestines and aids in the removal of waste from the digestive system. Their vitamin and mineral content also makes them great additions to salads and packed lunches and a healthy mid-morning or afternoon snack.

B BOUNCE! Fun and very, very good for you, rebounding is a form of aerobic exercise that is excellent for encouraging good blood circulation, so increasing the body’s ability to carry nutrients and oxygen to the skin cells. Rebounding improves functioning of the lymphatic system, which unlike the circulatory system does not have its own ‘pump’ and needs exercise to stimulate the lymph to flow efficiently and remove toxins from the blood.

C CARROTISE. Carrot juice contains high levels of beta-carotene, a substance converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is important for good eyesight, healthy skin and strong tooth enamel, and has antioxidant properties that can help boost the immune system.

D DELEGATE. Knowing when to delegate can save much unnecessary stress and avoid a feeling of being overwhelmed. In his book How to Enjoy Your Life and Your Job, author Dale Carnegie cites ‘learning to organise, deputise and supervise’ as one of the 4 good working habits that help prevent fatigue and worry.

E EXERCISE. Regular exercise has many benefits, among them assistance in reaching and/or maintaining a healthy body weight, better sleep, increased illness resistance & improved mood.

F FORGIVE. Letting go of past hurts can help free your energy, enabling you to be more productive in the present moment. As White Eagle says in his book The Quiet Mind, “To forgive is often difficult my children; but with forgiveness release comes to the spirit; the soul that has been in bondage and perhaps stretched upon the cross of suffering no longer suffers.”

G GLYCAEMIC INDEX. The GI is a numerical value between 0 and 100 that is given to a carbohydrate food to show how fast it affects blood sugar levels in the body. Foods with a low GI have a value of less than 55, an intermediate GI is 55-70 and a high GI 70-100. Foods with a low or intermediate GI help provide sustained energy release throughout the day, thus preventing extreme blood sugar highs or lows.

Foods with a low GI include fat-free yoghurt, oat bran, milk, seed loaf or whole-wheat products, legume such as chickpeas and peas, and apples, peaches, pears and plums. Foods with a high GI include potatoes, rice, white bread, watermelon, carrots, pumpkin and honey. It could also be useful to investigate the glycaemic load (GL) which is a ranking system based on the GI as well as portion size and so is a more accurate way to predict how different types and amounts of food could affect blood glucose values. A low GL is a value or 10 or less, 11-19 is medium and 20 is considered high.

H HERBS. Reduce sodium intake and add a variety of flavours by using more herbs when preparing your favourite dishes. Fresh and dried herbs can also be used to make teas and tinctures to aid in the treatment of a host of common ailments. Try adding 3 fresh peppermint leaves to your morning cup of (rooibos) tea, and leave to steep for 5 minutes before drinking. This aids digestion and perfumes breath, leaving your mouth fresh and clean.

I INHALE, exhale. Apart from keeping you alive, the simple act of breathing helps to remove carbon dioxide and other wastes from your body and brings oxygen to your cells. Insufficient oxygen in your body can affect your nerve cells and brain functioning as well as speed up the ageing process. Breathing deeply is also a good aid to relaxation when you find yourself tensing up involuntarily at work or in a stressful family situation.

J JUICE IT! Providing concentrated forms of the nutrients found in the whole fruit or vegetables, juicing is an excellent way of helping to provide your body with its daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. Add spirulina powder or wheatgrass to fresh juices for even more of an energy boost. Juices can also form an integral part of a balanced detoxification programme. Consult your dietician or nutritionist before embarking on a juice fast or any other form of detoxification.

K KEEP IT COVERED. Getting that sun-kissed look naturally can be helpful in combating anaemia and aid your body in synthesising vitamin D, which assists in the absorption of calcium. Be careful not to spend too much time in direct sunlight between 12 noon and 3 pm as this is when the UVA and UVB rays are at their strongest and can have harmful effects on the skin. Twenty minutes of early-morning sun exposure is all that is recommended for optimal vitamin D synthesis; after that always ensure that you wear a sunscreen with the correct factor protection for your skin type.

L LAUGH.  There is no stronger medicine for the blues. Laughter lifts your mood, exercises the facial muscles, and causes your body to release more of the feel-good hormones called endorphins. Children laugh more times a day than adults, and laughing more often may help put you more in touch with a childlike sense of wonder when approaching life's daily ups and downs.

M MEDITATE. Taking time every day to sit quietly and think about your goals and dreams is not only a good way to relax, it helps you to reconnect with where you are in your life and to start each project from a grounded perspective.

N NUTRITIOUS NIBBLING. Eating small snacks throughout the day can prevent a slump in blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy, helping to keep your moods even and your mind focused. Why not replace your mid-morning coffee and muffin with fresh fruit and herbal tea? This places less stress on your digestive system and provides you with easily assimilated nutrients, as well as counting towards your 'eight a day'. Snacking on unsalted nuts and seeds instead of crisps will cut down on your sodium intake as well as providing you with essential good fats.

O OILS. Cold-pressed, extra-virgin oils of flax, olive and avocado contain good amounts of omega-3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, also known as EFAs. The body needs these to manufacture and repair cell membranes and support the cardiovascular, immune, reproductive and nervous systems. In addition to these considerable benefits, I have personally noticed a marked improvement in the condition of my skin, hair and nails when I include these oils in my daily diet. Oils can be damaged by heat and light, so to get the most benefit store them in dark bottles, in the fridge if possible, and use them cold in salad dressings and dips such as hummus, or drizzled over stir-fries.

P PROBIOTICS. Beneficial bacteria such as bifidus and acidophilus help to boost the immune system and fight infection. Taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics is also recommended to help restore balance in the gut flora. Up your intake further by eating a small pot of 'live' yoghurt daily.

Q COQ10. Yet another good reason to eat your greens! Green vegetables contain con-enzyme Q10, a powerful antioxidant needed by the body for energy production. CoQ10 can also be found in oily fish and eggs.

R RAW. Following a diet high in raw foods such as fruit and vegetables can be beneficial to digestion and nutrient assimilation. Many international clinics such as the Bircher-Benner clinic in Zurich have used high-raw diets to help treat a number of chronic illnesses. A diet high in raw foods provides plenty of fibre and can be a good aid to weight loss, but don't attempt to make the change all at once. Consult with your dietician or nutritionist before embarking on a raw food diet, as the body needs time to adjust to any change in eating habits for the maximum benefits to be attained.

S STUB IT OUT!  Apart from damaging your lungs, smoking increases your body's need for many vitamins and minerals. In her book Body Foods for Women, dietician Jane Clarke recommends that smokers eat as many vitamin C-rich foods as possible and also supplement daily with 2000 mg of this vitamin. Best of all, of course, is to put a plan in action that will help you to quit smoking completely.

T TEA TREE, an Australasian flowering shrub or small tree with leaves that are sometimes used for tea. Tea tree oil is one of the best-researched essential oils in the world. Many studies have demonstrated its value as an antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory agent. For almost a century it has been used for these purposes, and its ability to kill bacteria is well established. Try a specially formulated shampoo that contains tea tree oil, as it is also a powerful cleanser.

U UNITE. Sharing common interests with people around you gives a feeling of belonging and can prevent you from becoming too insular. Joining a yoga or philosophy class or signing up to volunteer in your community can help you make new friends and broaden your horizons.

V VINO. Red wine is said to contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body. Don't over-indulge, however, as excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage and serious psychological problems. It is recommended that women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week and men no more than 21 units. According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, in South Africa one unit of alcohol is equal to 90ml of wine (12%), half a can of cider, one shot of spirits, or two-thirds of a can of beer or bottle of alcoholic cooler.

W WATER, WATER, WATER, WATER. Yes, we know you have heard it before, but 6-8 glasses of water a day really is good for you. Your body is made up of 60% water and needs water to aid in the digestive processes and remove toxins. Regular water consumption also helps with regulating body temperature. Many supermarkets now sell home filter jugs; alternatively there are various filter systems available that can be fitted in your kitchen, ensuring a healthy source of clean water for your family.

X X-FILES. Finding out about subjects you don't know much about broadens your mind and makes for more interesting conversation. Constantly challenging your mind and beliefs keeps you mentally agile and up to date.

Y YOGA. Regular yoga practice is a wonderful way of toning and exercising the body. It improves posture and increases flexibility. There are many different schools of yoga - find the one that is best for you. Many health centres and gyms now offer yoga classes on a regular basis.

Z ZZZZZZ. Enough sleep is essential to good health! While you sleep your body works to repair damage and eliminate toxins. Too little sleep can lead to weakening of the immune system and lack of concentration. The need for sleep varies from person to person according to age and environmental factors, but eight hours of sleep a night is generally recommended.

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