Go with your gut!

Gut feelings and our sense of well-being.

We have all experienced the connection between emotions and our digestive system – we call them gut feelings – and we know that our emotions can affect how our intestines function. The same is also true the other way around – conditions in our intestines can influence our mental state, and even the development of mood disorders – and we’re now beginning to understand how this works.

I have first-hand experience of this. About 15 years ago, fed up with suffering from IBS, I decided to try cutting out some food groups, starting with dairy and wheat. I didn’t notice much at first but after about four weeks the pain and bloating subsided, and I felt a great deal better. Then I noticed that the mood swings I had always put down to hormonal changes had also completely gone. These mood swings could be quite extreme, and included feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, low-self-esteem, and poor self-image.

I tried re-introducing the foods, first dairy without any problems. But when I introduced wheat, I had the most profound reaction. The next day, I was almost suicidal and could hardly put one foot in front of the other – it was all I could do to get through that day. I held onto the thought that this had to be something outside of me, something external because nothing had changed from yesterday except that I had eaten wheat. This reaction persists even now, and even a tiny amount of wheat – ordinary soy sauce, or crispy-coated chips – will give me a dreadful ‘low’ about 24 hours later.

Our intestines are naturally porous. With conditions such as IBS there is a certain amount of inflammation and therefore swelling, hence the bloating and backache. Undigested food particles can pass more easily into the blood stream. The chemical balance of the fluid between the cells changes. All this affects the Vagus nerve, the messenger between our intestines and the brain. It’s the longest cranial nerve in the body and it has a role in the interplay between autonomic regulation (the unconscious functions of the body like heart rate and digestion) and the limbic centres which govern emotional expression and control.

We used to think of the Vagus nerve as simply the carrier of commands from the brain to glands and organs, but because it actually has more afferent neurons (taking messages from the body to the brain) rather than efferent neurons (taking messages from the brain to the body) it’s an important mediator of the connections between conditions in the abdomen and our emotional state.

This research is so important that it’s now being described as the third division of the autonomic nervous system and scientists are carefully studying the connection between our emotions and the role of the Vagus nerve. For example, a human has more serotonin receptors in the gut than in the brain. Understanding this relationship has many implications and explains why new medication guidelines for many chronic intestinal disorders recommend antidepressants over traditionally used drugs.

A recent study found that facial massage causes transmission along the Vagus nerve and into the limbic system, producing feelings of being soothed and cared for. In abdominal massage, it’s likely that stimulating the Vagus nerve help to shift the body into a parasympathetic state, giving us those feelings we experience after a good yoga class or a meditation session. So, the use of abdominal massage for mood disorders, relaxation and sleep promotion is an excellent reason (if you need one) to include abdominal massage in your treatments.

Lovegrove Essentials Massage Balms.

GENERAL INFORMATION

What does it do?

  • The balm conditions the skin with no oily residue.
  • Can be used all over the body.
  • Practical and economical with no spillage or waste.
  • Ready-blended with essential oils for different therapeutic effects, or unscented.

How to use:

  • Scoop some balm from the tub into your hands. It will ‘melt’ on contact with skin and is then ready to apply to the area to be massaged. Add more as necessary.

Other ways of using it:

  • Use a small amount on your skin before shaving.
  • Use as a nourishing massage treatment for the head and hair.

Who is it for?

  • These balms are suitable for all skin types.

Olive Massage Balm:

  • Olive Fruit Oil – an unscented massage balm, it is extremely effective on dry, chapped skin, useful for eczema or psoriasis, and especially good for hands, elbows, knees and feet. Nourishing and softening, it provides excellent protection from weather and water. Coconut oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. Rice bran wax is a skin conditioning and protecting agent with high antioxidant properties.

Lavender and Clary Sage:

  • Lavender – relaxing calming and soothing, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory. Known to relieve toothache, neuralgia, rheumatism among many other ailments. It has been used as an insect repellent and was used in hospitals during the first world war to disinfect floors and walls.
  • Clary Sage – reduces skin inflammation and regulates the natural sebum production, making it suitable for all skin types. Has an uplifting effect and is known for its positive effects on mood swings, balancing female hormones and facilitating restful sleep. (NB: Clary Sage Essential Oil is not recommended during pregnancy.)

Black Pepper and Rosemary:

  • Black Pepper – warming and stimulating, used to ease muscle and joint pain, often used in blends for sports massage. May be used for skin inflammations and superficial wounds and to treat stomach and digestive issues.
  • Rosemary – healing, astringent, toning, tonic, refreshing, stimulating, deodorant, anti-septic, reactivating, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, softening, invigorating. (NB: Rosemary Essential Oil is not recommended during pregnancy . )

Spike Lavender, Ginger and Marjoram:

  • Spike Lavender – stronger than lavender, it has a wide range of therapeutic properties. Deeply relaxing for the mind and body tissues, anti-septic and revitalising, can be helpful for a range of skin problems including abscesses, acne, athlete’s foot, boils, bruises, eczema, spots, sores, wounds, sunburn, insect bites and stings.
  • Ginger – healing, tonic, anti-inflammatory, it is very soothing for aching joints and muscles. Helpful when combined with other oils in massage blends for after sport and relaxation.
  • Marjoram – anti-spasmodic, calming and sedative, known for its soothing and relaxing benefits on the mind and on tired, aching muscles. Often added to sports massage blends.

KEY INGREDIENTS IN ALL BALMS:

Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil – an excellent carrier for other oils, it is extremely effective on dry, chapped skin. It is especially good for hands, elbows, knees and feet. Nourishing and softening, it provides excellent protection from weather and water. Quickly absorbed by the skin it also helps regulate sebum production.

Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil – a good emollient, easily absorbed it leaves the skin smooth and nourished. It is odourless and colourless and won’t stain linen or towels during massage. It is naturally antibacterial and antifungal and can penetrate hair better than other oils.

Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax – a skin conditioning and protecting agent with high antioxidant properties. Provides a protective, non-comedogenic barrier. It is not hydrogenated, is Ecocert, Cosmos approved and vegan friendly.

Tocopherol – natural Vitamin E, moisturising, easily absorbed, protects cell membranes from free radical damage.

Summer Refresher

The weather this summer is very thirsty work, and with Wimbledon and the World Cup looming, we all need a thirst quencher to slake our thirst before we start the celebrations.

Whenever friends and family are around, I make this big Jug of Summer from the herbs outside the back door. I make it a few hours beforehand, or leave it overnight in the fridge, so the taste of the lemon balm and mint really does come through.

Put a large sprig of lemon balm and mint in a jug. (You could also use lemon grass.)

Fill two thirds with water.

Add 6-10 thin slices of cucumber, half a lemon (thinly sliced) and squeeze in the rest of the juice.

If you like a little sweetness add a dash of elderflower cordial.

Leave to steep for a few hours.

Top up with ice before serving.

And if you haven’t heard about the magical effects of cucumber water, may I present Macka B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVfNrNcvlto

Top 10 Reasons & 101 Foods for a Low-Carb Lifestyle.

The low-carb lifestyle is not just ‘another fad diet’. It’s a method of enjoying your food, staying healthy through your life, and eating in a way that supports your mental and physical well-being.  We all want to look and feel our best, and so much excellent research has been done now into this that we think it’s really important to understand a  bit about the science behind it.

And to help you make a start, here a list of 101 low-carb foods (approx – we haven’t counted!)

Top 10 reasons for low carb living:

1. The low-carb lifestyle.
First point, this isn’t about a ‘diet’ in the old, weight loss sense of the word. It’s about salmon-dish-food-meal-46239.jpegyour lifestyle choices. You can manage your health by keeping your carb intake at a sensible level, and manage your weight by reducing that a little further.

2. Eating low-carb foods reduces your appetite.
Because of its effects on blood sugar levels and therefore cravings, one of the best things about eating low-carb is that it leads to a natural reduction in your appetite. Gradually, your appetite tends to go down and you often end up eating much fewer calories without trying. To manage hunger pangs at key points in the day (11, 4 and pre-dinner snacks) we have developed some easy and quick little recipes for sweet and savoury stopgaps HERE.

3. Managing your weight with a low-carb lifestyle.
Studies show that people comsuming low-carb foods lose more weight, faster, than people restricting their fat intake… even when people are actively restricting calories. One of the reasons for this is that low-carb diets tend to get rid of excess water from the body. Because they lower insulin levels, the kidneys start shedding excess sodium, leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two (1, 2). In studies comparing low-carb and low-fat diets, the low-carbers sometimes lose 2-3 times as much weight, without being hungry (3, 4). (It’s true – we’ve been there!) So if you find you’re losing weight, add in a portion of healthier carbs when you have reached your goal weight.

4. A low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and tdiabetes-blood-sugar-diabetic-medicine-46173.jpegype 2 diabetes.
A large percentage of the fat lost on low-carb diets tends to come from the harmful fat in the abdominal cavity that is known to cause serious metabolic problems. We have both subcutaneous fat (under the skin), and visceral fat (in the abdominal cavity). It this visceral fat is fat that tends to lodge around the organs and can cause serious problems. Having a lot of fat in the abdominal cavity can trigger inflammation, which leads to and exacerbates all kinds of ailments. It also increases insulin resistance, believed to be a leading driver of the metabolic dysfunction that is so common in Western countries today (5). So a low-carb lifestyle should lead to a drastically reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

5. The low-carb lifestyle is better for your heart, triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
A low-carb lifestyle is very effective at lowering blood triglycerides, which are fat molecules in the blood and a well-known risk factor for heart disease. It will also increase the levels of HDL (High-density lipoprotein), one of the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol away from the body and into the liver, where it can be reused or excreted. The Triglycerides:HDL ratio is another very strong predictor of heart disease risk. By lowering triglycerides and raising HDL levels, low-carb diets lead to a major improvement in this ratio. (6, 7, 8).

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6. And has a tendency to lower blood pressure.
Having elevated blood pressure (hypertension) is an important risk factor for many diseases, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Studies show that reducing carbs leads to a significant reduction in blood pressure, which should lead to a reduced risk of many common diseases.

7. The effects of low-carb on Type 2 Diabetes is amazing!
When we eat carbs, they are broken down into simple sugars (mostly glucose) in the digestive tract. From there, they enter the bloodstream and elevate blood sugar levels. Because high blood sugars are toxic, the body responds with a hormone called insulin, which tells the cells to bring the glucose into the cells and to start burning or storing it. For people who are insulin-resistant this can lead to Type 2 diabetes, when the body fails to secrete enough insulin to lower the blood sugar after meals. By cutting carbohydrates, you remove the need for all of that insulin – both blood sugars and insulin go way down (9, 10).
According to Dr. Eric Westman, who has treated many diabetics using a low-carb approach, he needs to reduce their insulin dosage by 50% on the first day (11).
In one study in type 2 diabetics, 95.2% had managed to reduce or eliminate their glucose-lowering medication within 6 months (12).
***If you are currently on blood sugar lowering medication, then talk to your doctor before making changes to your carbohydrate intake, because your dosage may need to be adjusted in order to prevent hypoglycaemia.***

8. It can help Metabolic Syndrome.
The metabolic syndrome is a collection of symptoms that is highly associated with the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated fasting blood sugar levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Low HDL levels

Amazingly, all five symptoms improve dramatically on a low-carb diet (13). Unfortunately, the government and major health organization still recommend a low-fat diet for this purpose, which is pretty much useless because it does nothing to address the underlying metabolic problem.

9. Low-Carb Diets Improve The Pattern of LDL Cholesterol.
Scientists have now shown that it is the type of LDL that matters. Low-density lipoproteins, often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, are not all equal. It is the size of the particles that is important.

  • Mostly small particles = high risk of heart disease.
  • Mostly large particles = low risk of heart disease (14).

When you eat a low-carb diet, your LDL particles change from small (bad) LDL to large LDL – which is benign. Cutting carbs may also reduce the number of LDL particles floating around in the bloodstream. Who knew?!

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10. Several Brain Disorders respond well to the low-carb lifestyle.
We need a quick recap of the Ketogenic diet here:
Glucose is necessary for the brain and that’s why the liver produces glucose out of protein if we don’t eat any carbs. But a large part of the brain can also burn ketones, which are formed during starvation or when carbohydrate intake is very low. This is the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, which has been used for decades to treat epilepsy in children who don’t respond to drug treatment (15). Very low-carb/ketogenic diets are now being studied for other brain disorders as well, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease (16).

Few things are as well established in nutrition science as the immense health benefits of a low-carb lifestyle. Which makes it even more amazing that we can still find sweets at the checkout, fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate in vending machines in sports halls, hospitals, schools, blah blah blah! After 40 years preaching this I feel like a stuck record…..

Print out this list of 101 low-carb foods and get going. What have you got to lose?

This is a synopsis of the article written by Kris Gunnars BSc for www.healthline.com. (For more information and some of the research, click on the hyperlinks.)
For more excellent medical information, visit http://thenoakesfoundation.org
For help with diet and recipes, see https://www.dietdoctor.com

 

Hayley’s Oat Bran Bread

IMG_2873-1As a wheat-free foodie, I love this ‘bread’ and I make this probably twice a week. It’s become a big part of our diet, which is really saying something when you live the man who literally wrote the book on bread! What Daniel Stevens doesn’t know about baking isn’t worth knowing, so the fact that he’s adopted this recipe into his repertoire is a pretty big deal for me. It’s super high protein and wheat free, packed with fibre and can be topped with sweet or savoury things. It has a dense texture, similar to rye or pumpernickel bread, and also makes great crostini or bruschetta.

Ingredients:

200g Oat Bran (you can get this in most supermarkets now, in the cereal aisle, or Holland & Barrett do a fine cut one which is my favourite)

2-3 Eggs, or vegan equivalent

2 Tablespoons of Greek Yoghurt or vegan equivalent

Pinch of sea salt

Baking Powder

1 Table spoon of Olive Oil (or similar)

Seeds, nuts or dried berries (optional)

Method:

Pre-Heat your oven to about 180*C and line a tin with baking paper. I usually use a round 8 inch cake tin, and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.

Use two large or three medium eggs, egg replacer or aqua faba (chick pea or bean water) of an equivalent amount and beat with a fork or whisk.

Add the oat bran in table spoons, starting with about six. Keep adding until you have a thick paste.

Then add the greek yoghurt, or vegan alternative (almond or Soya milk is fine) and mix in, loosening the paste. Beat in half a teaspoon of baking powder at this stage also, and add some salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Once you have the basic mixture, you can add seeds (I use sunflower, linseeds and pumpkin seeds), nuts or dried berries to create different flavours of bread. Goji berries would work really nicely and would add a delicious sweetness.

Once you’ve added your extras, scrape the mix into your baking tin. You can add more seeds to decorate the top before you pop it in the oven if you like.

Bake at 180*C for about 30 mins. I have yet to burn a loaf of this bread – it seems you can cook it for quite some time before it even begins to colour! You may a get a little rise from the baking powder and eggs, but not much.

Check after 20 mins and see if you want the top to colour more. Once it’s golden brown, remove it from the oven and tip the bread out onto a wire rack to cool. It doesn’t slice very well when it’s still warm, so you’ll have to be patient before you try it!

 

Top with organic grass-fed butter or avocados and tomato salsa, smoked salmon, peanut butter and homemade jam, marmalade… The list is endless!! I’ve yet to find something it doesn’t go with 😀

 

Hayley x

Green Energy Juice

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After a long week of New Year celebrations, Daniel and I were keen to get ahead on 2018 and do a full de-clutter of the house – re-arranging furniture, hoovering behind things and taking stuff to the charity shop. I had a horrible cold, and we had both over indulged at Daniel’s dad’s house earlier in the week. Needless to say – we were both feeling pretty tired and needed a serious energy boost to get the productive weekend we had in mind off to a good start. Enter my Green Energy Juice. Packed with nutritious dark green plants (full of mood lifting B-Vits) and metabolism-boosting spices, this high-protein juice delivered the kick-up-the-butt that our minds, bodies and digestive systems needed.

Ingredients:

300ml pressed Clementine Juice (can use orange or another fruit. Pineapple is great too.)

Half a cucumber, chopped into chunks (organic if possible)

Kale (I love the frozen balls you can get in supermarkets these days)

Ginger (fresh or frozen into cubes)

Large pinch of Black pepper (freshly ground)

1 whole Red chilli (optional)

2 Tablespoons of vegan protein powder (I use Pulsin Protein)

2 Teaspoons of Powdered Spirulina

Pour the juice into a high-performance juice blender (NOT a juicer as it removes too much of the nutritious fibre from the veggies).

Add the veg and spices, and a few cubes of ice if you like it really cold. Blend the whole lot for about 30 seconds. This makes enough for two people, so share between two glasses and feel the instant benefits of this delicious juice.

Don’t forget to share your juice with us! Tags us in your pics on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and help spread the juicy love ❤