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Plant-based essentials: Where to start

Plant-based essentials: where to start with a plant-based diet – class handout by Dr Linia Patel PhD

If you want to eat a more plant-based diet but are not sure where to start, this is a one-stop handout.

Q: Does plant-based mean vegan?

A: Contrary to popular belief, vegan and plant-based are two different things.  Vegan omits all animal products from the diet and lifestyle whereas, plant-based refers to a diet that omits animal products and focuses on plant foods.


Five steps to eating more plant based

1.     Make simple swaps

Start by incorporating small changes that will build a foundation for you in the long run.  If you try to jump in and go 100% plant based tomorrow, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed and will want to give up.  Set the tone for your transition by incorporating small, simple swaps each and every day ie

·       Swap regular milk in your morning coffee for a plant based milk

·       Change your yoghurt snack for a plant based yoghurt (opt for unsweetened in both instances)

·       When cooking meals at home, think about which meals you can add some beans to.  Soups, stews, curries, bolognaise or salads are all great meals to begin with.  Over time, add less meat and more beans.

·       Try asking for beans or tofu instead of chicken when ordering a bowl of salad when you’re out.

·       Skip the parmesan on your pasta next time and try adding nutritional yeast as a substitute.


2.     Pick one meal or a day to go vegan

Once you are comfortable with a few simple swaps in your routine, try to make one of your daily meals 100% plant based.  Breakfast is an easy one to start with.

3.     Focus on what you are adding, not taking away

Be sure to pivot the focus on all the things you can eat.  Plant proteins (ie beans, lentils, peas, tofu) should be the star of your plate.  Then think about all the other wholefoods you can add to your diet, like wholegrains and healthy fats.  Vegetables can be eaten in abundance.

4.     Stay traditional

If you don’t plan and organise your meals properly, avoiding animal products can lead to a reliance on unhealthy processed plant protein or refined carbohydrates.  Focus on whole plant foods (like in a traditional diet) rather than relying on processed foods (eg veggie burgers, sausages and vegan cheese).  It’s ok to include processed plant based meat alternatives such as veggie burgers, sausages or fake meat in your diet occasionally; however, the bulk of your diet should be based on whole, nutrient-dense plant foods.

5.     Keep it interesting.  Won’t I miss meat?

That’s definitely something people wonder about; however, if you keep meals interesting, you won’t miss meat.  Think a nice lentil curry simmering with Indian spices served with brown rice or a homemade black bean and quinoa burger served with guacamole and thick tomato slices on a wholegrain bun.  The sky is the limit!  Start exploring the world of plants.  Get some recipe inspiration if you need some.

Want to go all the way and become vegan?

If you are following a vegan diet, then keep the following in mind:

·       Keep it varied.  Vegans get most of their protein from beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.  Other foods like grains and vegetables also contain protein in lower amounts; however, it is important to eat a combination of all plant-based foods as the amino acids (building blocks of protein) found in plants are not complete like animal proteins.

·       Be aware of B12.  B12 is a vitamin that is essential for energy.  Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products so, without these, it’s essential to eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take a vitamin B12 supplement.  Speak to a registered dietitian or nutritionist or your GP to find out more about supplements.

·       Always marry your iron-rich foods with vitamin C.  People following a vegan diet can get enough iron through plant foods (ie legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, dried fruits and dark green leafy vegetables).  However, the type of iron in plant foods (non-haem iron) is not as easily absorbed as that in animal foods (haem iron).  To boost the absorption of iron from plant foods, you must include a vitamin C-rich food with meals.  Foods rich in vitamin C include berries, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, tomatoes or peppers.

·       Focus on omega-3 fats.  Our body can’t make omega-3 fats itself, so it’s important to get them through food.  The omega 3 fats in oily fish are in a different form from the omega 3 fats in plant foods.  Our bodies can convert some omega 3 fats from plant sources into the more beneficial form found in marine sources but the conversion rate is low.  Plant sources of omega 3 fats include linseeds/flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds and seaweed.  There are also vegan marine omega 3 fat supplements available.


·       Stay conscious about calcium intake: as a vegan diet does not include dairy products, it is important to include other calcium-rich foods.  Some good plant sources of calcium are calcium fortified milk alternatives, hard tofu, almonds, tahini (sesame seed paste), green leafy vegetables and dried figs.

Good nutrition and the right supplements can speed up injury recovery.

What happens when you get injured?

Injury recovery is characterised by an organised response to the acute trauma.

The first stage is the inflammatory stage.  Pain, swelling, redness and heat draw chemicals to the injured area.

The second stage involves the removal of damaged tissues and the building of temporary tissue.  Finally, new cells replace the intermediary cells, which builds stronger and more permanent tissue1.

How can nutrition help the repair process?

During each step of the repair process, you can use targeted nutritional strategies to support and enhance this repair process.1,2,3

Calorie needs during recovery

Energy needs increase during acute injury repair.  In fact, basal metabolic rate (BMR) may increase by 15-50% based on the severity of the trauma.  For example, a sporting injury or minor surgery may increase BMR by 15-20%.  Of course, comparatively speaking, a person who is very active will have to eat less during injury recovery than during training, yet it is important not to under eat.  Speak to a dietitian who can calculate your individualised needs.

Protein during recovery

Injury repair requires more protein.  To ensure quick recovery, it is recommended at a minimum to have 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.  Each meal/snack should contain complete protein, including lean meats or meat alternatives, eggs, moderate amounts of dairy or a protein supplement (if whole food is not available).

Carbohydrates during recovery

While glucose is needed for injury healing, no specific carbohydrate recommendations have been established for injury periods.  You should eat fewer starches when not training but don’t cut the intake too low, especially if you are accustomed to a high carbohydrate intake, as a low carb diet can be an additional stressor.  The focus should also be on the quality of carbohydrates consumed.  Aim for minimally processed, higher fibre carbs.

Fats during recovery

The key with dietary fats is that you get the balance of fats right.  Aim for more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats than inflammatory omega-6 fats.  Focus on eating avocado, olive oil, mixed tree nuts, flaxseeds and oily fish.  Limit vegetables oils like sunflower or soybean oil.

Micronutrients during recovery

Eating a balanced diet ensures that you get the necessary vitamins and minerals needed.  However, vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc, are all important for injury recovery.  Supplementing with these beyond normal doses for small periods of time can help with recovery.  Interestingly, vitamin E may slow down wound healing, so avoid vitamin E supplements during injury.  Speak to a dietitian who can calculate your individualised needs.

Additional nutrients that may affect injury recovery3

  • Supplemental amino acids powerfully affect injury healing. When the body is under stress (as within an injury), arginine and glutamine become conditionally essential amino acids, which means supplementing with them may speed up healing.  However, before loading up on amino acids, note that many of the studies discussed in this section were done on either older people or hospitalised patients.  Malnutrition is common in both.  Speak to a dietitian to see if you would benefit from a supplement.
  • Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. Research has found that it may help to decrease swelling and also give relief from muscle soreness.  Curcumin is the active ingredient.  Studies show that 7tsp of turmeric or 500mg per day in supplemental form may have an effect.

This article was in FitPro by Dr Linia Patel .   Linia has a BSc degree in biochemistry and physiology and has recently achieved a PhD in public health.  Linia is a leading dietitian and sports nutritionist.  Her passion is translating nutritional science into easy-to-digest and practical advice. 


  1. Ryan et al(2020), Nutritional considerations and strategies to facilitate injury recovery and rehabilitation, J Athl Train., 55(9): 918-930.
  2. Papadopoulou S (2020), Rehabilitation nutrition for injury recovery of athletes: The role of macronutrient intake, Nutrients, 12(8): 2,449.
  3. Rawson et al (2018), Dietary supplements for health, adaptation and recovery in athletes, Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab., 28(2): 188-199.

Q What are the different types of sugar?

A: Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, which means it doesn’t need much digestion and its very easily absorbed into the blood stream – causing your blood sugar levels to go up.  The types of sugar that adults are eating too much of is ‘free sugar’.  Free sugar is any sugar that is added to food or drink.  This could include biscuits, chocolate, breakfast cereals and fizzy drinks.  It’s important to remember the definition of free sugars – this includes sugars found in honey and syrups.  This also includes maple, agave, sweetened fruit juices, vegetable juices and smoothies.  Even though these sugars appear in the product naturally, they still count as our free sugar intake.  There are sugars found naturally in fruit, vegetables and whole milk.  These don’t count as part of the free sugars; we don’t need to be cutting down on these.  It’s important to remember that when you look at the label for total sugar, what you need to be looking at is ‘free sugar’.

Q Why is sugar used?

A Sugar acts as a preservative.  It also helps to deliver particular textures in cakes, chocolate and biscuits or add colour.  We are genetically programmed to like sweet flavours which is why we find sugary foods palatable from birth.

Q What is too much?

A We know that a diet high in sugar increases the risk of tooth decay and causes weight gain.  A high consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks causes type 2 diabetes.  What’s interesting is that the link between sugar consumption and obesity, or conditions such as heart disease, has actually been harder to prove.  The reason for this is that sugar is widely eaten.  Diseases are not caused by one food or nutrient in isolation but rather a range of generic lifestyle factors.

Q What are the recommendations for sugar intake?

A In 2015, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published new guidance to recommend that we actually need to reduce our sugar intake to 5%.

In practical terms, a child aged 10 should eat less than 4-5 teaspoons of free sugar a day; an average woman should have a maximum of 3 teaspoons of free sugar a day and men should target 7-8 teaspoons of free sugar a day.  The latest Government survey suggests only 4% of young people are currently eating the right amount.

Q Should we be going sugar-free?

A I think it’s more about learning to eat sugar in line with the guidelines but not necessarily going against sugar or looking for alternatives.  What I find is that people who are on a sugar-free diet are still consuming copious amounts of other sugary substances such as honey, agave and maple syrup.  At the end of the day, it is still sugar.

Q How do the sugars compare to table sugar?

A Honey has a reputation of being healthier, due to its anti-inflammatory flavonoids.  As you are consuming honey in quite small amounts, the amount of flavonoids and minerals you’re getting is very much a trace level.  Honey is actually slightly sweeter than sugar; a tablespoon of honey has 64 calories whereas a tablespoon of sugar has 48 calories.  It might be that if you use honey, you end up using less to get the same sweetness.  If this is helping you reduce your sugar intake slowly, then this might be a reason to use honey over sugar.  The next sugar is agave syrup.  It is made from the agave plant but, unfortunately, because of the way the syrup is made, the plant is heated with very high heat and enzymes that destroys a lot of the benefits.  What you end up with is this syrup that is low in glucose and is actually fructose so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels as much.  Every cell in the body can metabolise glucose whereas not every cell in the body can metabolise fructose.  The body can process small amounts of fructose and this is why it’s ok to be eating fruit.  The third type is stevia sugar which is extracted from the stevia plant.  In comparison to sugar, stevia is 30 times sweeter in its whole leaf form.  Stevia has no calories and no effect on blood sugar levels and is a great alternative to sugar in that it doesn’t make your blood sugar levels spike and it doesn’t count as part of your free sugar intake.

Article by Dr Linia Patel for Fit Pro

When health and fitness professionals use the word ‘core’, they’re talking about a range of muscle groups.

But a lot of people think their core is just their abs or ‘the six-pack muscles’ (which are Rectus abdominis, External oblique, Internal oblique & Transverse abdominis). The core does involve all of these abdominal muscles but also involves the back muscles, pelvic floor muscles (PFM) and the transversus abdominis (TA) as mentioned.

The PFM and the TA muscles provide lumbo-pelvic stability meaning that, if it’s weak and overloaded or loaded incorrectly with exercise, injuries can occur.

The PFM and TA work together to support the abdominal viscera (keep your organs in place), as well as supporting the spine.  They provide resistance to increases in intra-abdominal pressure (jumping, coughing, lifting).  They promote continence, while also allowing for voiding, defecation, sexual activity and childbirth.

Well, they do when they’re working correctly.  But a weak PFM/TA complex and increased loading – think repetitive heavy lifting (weights) or HIIT exercises with excessive jumping, for example – may lead to spinal injuries, hernias and urine leakage during a workout.

Although correct contraction is important in everybody, for women it’s of prime importance.  A weak PFM and TA puts women at increased risk of issues like incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.  And, despite the accepted wisdom, that’s not exclusive to women of a ‘certain age’.  These issues can be a barrier for any woman to exercise with an instructor/trainer or in a gym, due to the risk of leakage.

Before doing any first weights or HIIT session in the gym, it’d be good to learn to isolate and engage these muscles correctly, and we’d find the workout more efficient in their workouts, because secondary muscles (ie superior abdominals and gluteals) aren’t wasting energy co-contracting to help the core.  Basically, by strengthening the PFM and TA, your peripheral muscles then have a solid base to work from.

So, how do you contract the PFM/TA?  Lie on the back, knees bent and feet on the floor with hands wrapped around/on the hips for feedback (index and middle finger sitting just on the inside of the pelvic bone).  We’re then encouraged to gently close the back passage as if trying to stop wind escaping.  From there, the contraction will feel different in men and women.  For women, it should then feel like the contraction is moving forward and up in the pelvis like an escalator towards the pubic bone.  For men, it will feel like drawing the genitals back up into the pelvis.  With these gentle contractions, a drawing in of the TA and therefore a swelling under the fingertips is automatically felt.  When the contraction is finished, the swelling under the fingers should subside.

We’re encouraged to practise this at home to help to strengthen these muscles.  Long (10-second) holds, breathing normally, 10 times with 10 one-second holds will help to strengthen both the fast- and slow-twitch fibres.  For anyone lifting weights, or particularly for anyone who has incontinence or prolapse issues, teaching ‘the knack’ to avoid leakage and injury will be revolutionary.  ‘The knack’ is a contraction of the PFM/TA right before any activity and core strength can be built on as a strong foundation.

What to look for in a pelvic floor and transversus abdominis contraction

– Drawing in of the lower abdominals
– Neutral spine maintained
– Relaxed upper abdominals
– Normal breathing
– Surrounding muscles (glutes, inner thigh) remain relaxed
– Contraction is gentle

– Lower abdominal doming
– Excessive spine and pelvic movement
– Bearing down of the upper abdominals
– Breath holding
– Co-contraction of the glutes (buttock squeeze) or inner thigh (legs drop in)
– Contraction is excessive


In March 2020, the coronavirus outbreak was labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). A pandemic describes an infectious disease where we see significant and ongoing person-to-person spread in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

As an exercise professional promoting health and fitness, I (and we) need to take the advice of all the relevant health authorities detailed below. But there are also many simple but effective actions that we can take to ensure that we can continue to positively influence our health.

It should always be remembered that in addition to specific intervention, being fit and healthy is the best defence against viruses. So we should take all steps to avoid catching and/or spreading the virus, but importantly there’s no need to stop being active.  Here’s some collated advice from around the world to provide you with current and relevant information about COVID-19:

Health experts recommend the following preventative measures:

* Identify – If you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus or have returned from an affected area identified by the Chief Medical Officer as high risk and you are feeling unwell with a cough, difficulty breathing or fever, stay at home and use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111.

* Wash Hands Frequently – Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to. Hand dryers in isolation have not proven to be effective in killing COVID-19.

* Reduce Potential Spread – To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 may survive on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.

* Disinfect Regularly – Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection to other people.

* Avoid touching your face – Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Current knowledge suggests that any virus, including COVID-19 transferred to hands from a touched surface can enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth.

* Keep a sensible distance – Maintain sensible distances between yourself and others… at least 1m between healthy individuals and up to 2m from a person who is coughing or sneezing

Fitness specific guidance:

Equipment usage – please bring and use your own equipment ie yoga mat, hand weights, resistance band, towel, water and ensure all equipment is disinfected after use with anti-bacterial cleaner/wipes. Maybe put your name on your water bottle and keep your equipment away from others so you know which is yours.

Useful resources and regular updates can be found at:

NHS’s website at :

UK Government website:

Health Protection Scotland’s website:

and Gov.Scot Publications re coronavirus: (

latest healthcare advice from

NHS inform – Scottish health information you can trust | NHS inform

Coronavirus & your mental wellbeing:

nhs20covid-1920hand20washing20guide.jpg (474×335) (

 The above information may be subject to change as more information becomes available therefore, it’s recommended that you continue to monitor the UK Government website for any further developments.

Important: If you feel unwell or if you’ve been in close contact with an infected person or anyone who’s self-isolating, please do not come to classes until you feel better or the self-isolating period is over and all concerned are well, thanks.

5 effective ways to boost your immune system so you can fend off colds & flu

1. Stay on top of your vitamin D levels. Super-nutrient vitamin D not only strengthens your bone and dampens inflammation but also slays colds. Recent research has shown that people with low vitamin D levels are 36% more likely to catch a cold than those who are not. The reason for this is that vitamin D helps your body produce a protein called cathelicidin that fights bacteria. As it’s the sunshine vitamin and most of us don’t get enough of that over winter, it’s recommended to take a supplement over the winter period.

Practical tip: In my clinical experience, 1000IU of D3 a day during autumn and winter is sufficient to maintain good vitamin D levels.

 2. Strengthen your gut: The microbes in your gut not only help your body to digest food, but they also help to regulate your metabolism and your immune system. In fact, almost 70% of your immune system is in the gut. Eating fermented food (think bio-live yogurt, miso, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut), popping a probiotic or increasing dosage if you are already on one boosts the level of good bacteria in your gut. The good bacteria in probiotics influence your body’s T cells, the crucial white blood cells that help power your immune system. They also help reduce inflammation, which prevents infection.

Practical tip: When you start feeling run down, reach out for an extra boost of probiotic-rich food like bio-live yogurt, miso soup, kimchi, pickles or sourdough bread.

3. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: Studies have shown that a high intake of simple sugars decreased white blood cell production by up to 50%. Eating a diet based on whole foods and loading up on antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruit will boost your overall health and help protect you from other viruses and infections. On the other hand, a diet that is high in refined foods and sugars will dramatically decrease your immune function.

Practical tip: Feed your body nutrients, not empty calories – and this is especially true when you are about to get the flu or are already sick.

4. Sleep some more: Getting enough sleep is crucial for a cold-free winter and also vital for a speedy recovery if you have one. A lack of sleep leads to an increase in the body’s level of cortisol, a stress hormone that can take a toll on your immune system. Lowering your levels of cortisol increases your immune response.

Practical tip: Don’t sacrifice sleep, even for exercise. Aim for at least seven hours a night and, if you don’t get that, then try to have a nap.

5. Reach for zinc and vitamin C when you start feeling run down: While vitamin C should be part of your winter regimen (think citrus fruit and fresh veg and fruit) the other nutrient that can help curb cold symptoms fast is zinc. Research has shown that zinc (found in fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds) can also help shorten the duration of a cold by a few days. That’s because it has powerful immune-boosting and protective effects and studies suggest that it helps stop the replication of a cold’s cell.

Practical tip: Reach for 15-25mg of zinc a day when you start feeling run down for a short-term bout (one to two weeks max). Remember that with nutrition and particularly supplements, more is not better. Long-term use of zinc can lead to a copper imbalance. Interestingly, food sources that are high in zinc are naturally balanced in zinc and copper. How cool is nature?

article in FitPro mag 17/1/20 by Linia Patel who has BSc degree in biochemistry and physiology and she is a leading dietitian and sports nutritionist.

A FitPro Class Handout
Q: What is osteoporosis?
* osteoporosis occurs when bones become porous, which can lead to an increased risk of fracture, especially at the hip, spine and wrist.
* osteoporosis affects 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 years.
* fractures caused by osteoporosis can mean a loss of independence but also an increased risk of mortality.
* in menopause, osteoporosis is linked to other diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

Q: What are the causes of osteoporosis? Am I likely to suffer from it?
A: the main reason you may suffer from osteoporosis is due to your genes. If you have a family history of osteoporosis, then you are more likely to have or get osteoporosis. If you are an Asian or Caucasian female, then you are also more likely to get osteoporosis.
There are also things you do as part of your lifestyle that make you more susceptible to osteoporosis:
* if you do not take part in any bone-loading activity, such as activities involving impact or high-load resistance training; if you are a swimmer or cyclist, for instance, your bone health might not be as good as someone who engages in sports such as basketball and tennis.
* have a body mass index of less than or equal to 19kg/m2
* smoke (or have smoked in the last 10 years) more than 15 cigarettes a day
* drink more than the recommended alcohol units
* use certain drugs or medication, such as glucocorticoids, that affect your bone metabolism
* do not have enough calcium in your diet
* have low levels of vitamin D because of your diet and/or because you spend little or no time outdoors.
* have a condition that prevents you from absorbing calcium, such as gastro-intestinal disorders or a gastric band
* are peri (nearly) or postmenopausal
* have had an early hysterectomy
* have – or ever have had – amenorrhoea (a loss of your menstrual cycle) for 3 months or more

Q: How do I know if I have osteoporosis?
A: The only way for you to know for sure if you have osteoporosis is if you get a scan of your bones, called a DXA or DEXA scan. These scans need to be recommended by your GP and are usually carried out in a hospital-based setting, although there are a number of private companies who offer these whole-body DXA scans.

Q: What could I do to avoid osteoporosis if I already exercise but do not currently have osteoporosis?
* make sure the exercise you usually do involves some kind of impact or high-load resistance training that is varied and directional, such as playing tennis or basketball. Walkers and joggers tend to have lower bone health than sprinters and team sports players.
* if you don’t do any jumping as part of your current exercise regime, add 10 jumps per day. Jump on a hard surface without shoes. Jump as high as you feel comfortable. Separate each jump by a 10-second rest. Stop jumping if you get injured or feel any strenuous muscle pull or joint pain.
* to target the upper body, do high-load resistance training (eg perform 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps at around 80% 1RM) or try ‘wall drops’: stand facing a wall at a distance equivalent to one arm’s length. Take 1 small step back, then drop onto the wall with your outstretched arm, landing on the palm of your hand (just one arm at a time). Repeat between 20 and 40 times, twice a week.
* consume 800mg of calcium per day from foods such as dairy products, green leafy vegetables and tofu.
* consume 10mg of vitamin D from foods such as oily fish, egg yolks and red meat.
* spend time in sunlight to top up your vitamin D levels.
* eat 6 to 8 prunes per day as these have been found to be particularly beneficial for bone health.

article by Staffordshire University in Fit Pro Autumn 18 mag.

Article by Dr Joseph Mercola

Are you afraid of doing squats because it may damage your knees? Worry no more: research says that the squat, when done properly, can actually improve your knee stability and strengthen your connective tissues.

Dr Joseph Mercola highly recommends doing the squat, saying that it is a simple and relatively easy exercise that you can include in your workout routine. It doesn’t even require any exercise equipment.

“If you’re looking for a powerful way to boost your overall fitness and get some serious results — fast — from your workout routine, look no further than the squat,” he says.

How Can Squats Benefit Your Health?
Although it is considered a “leg exercise,” the squat actually offers numerous benefits to your entire body. Here are some of the benefits of doing squats:

1. Squats are a “functional exercise” that can help you do real-life activities with ease. Unlike exercises that allow you to operate gym equipment, functional exercises are those that help you do real-life activities. The squat is a great functional exercise, especially since humans have been doing it since the hunter-gatherer days.
“When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world, too,” Dr Mercola explains.

2. It builds muscles in your whole body. You can build and strengthen your leg muscles (quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings) by doing squats. Dr Mercola says squats can also create an anabolic environment that promotes muscle building in your entire body.
When done correctly, squats can even trigger human growth hormone and testosterone release. These are essential for muscle growth. Squats also help improve muscle mass when you work out other areas of your body aside from your legs. This means that squats are essential in improving both your upper body and lower body strength.

3. Squats help you burn more fat. Squats help you gain more muscle, which means you burn more calories. Every pound of additional muscle you gain means you burn 50 to 70 calories per day. This means that if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you automatically burn 500 to 700 more calories per day.

4. It gives you better mobility and balance. Squats make your legs strong, which are necessary to help you stay mobile as you get older. Squats also work out your core and stabilize your muscles – these are important to help you maintain proper balance. Squats also help improve brain-muscle group communication, which helps you avoid falls and is the best way to prevent bone fractures.

5. Doing squats may help you avoid injuries. Having weak muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues are the main reason why athletic injuries happen. By strengthening these areas of your body, you can prevent injuries from occurring. The flexibility of your ankles and hips also improves when you incorporate squats into your workout routine, which may also help prevent injuries.

6. Squats help you jump higher and run faster. Doing squats helps athletes run faster and jump higher. This is the reason why professional athletes are required to have this in their training program.
7. You can tone your buttocks, abs, and whole body if you do squats. Dr Mercola says squats can help tone and tighten your backside, abs, and your legs. The muscle-building ability of squats also helps you regulate glucose, lipid metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. These help protect you from diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

8. Squats help your body eliminate waste. The pumping of your body fluids improves when you do squats. It also helps you remove waste and deliver nutrition to your tissues, organs, and glands. Squats also help improve and make your bowel movement more regular

If you click on the link at the end of this Article, you can click on the video showing you safe squat techniques. The video goes over these points:
Warm up.
Stand with your feet just over shoulder width apart.
Keep your back in a neutral position, and keep your knees centered over your feet.
Slowly bend your knees, hips and ankles, lowering until you reach a 90-degree angle.
Return to starting position — repeat 15-20 times, for 2-3 sets for beginners (do this 2 or 3 times a week).
Breathe in as you lower; breathe out as you return to starting position.

Squats Should Be Part of Your Comprehensive Fitness Routine
Dr Mercola has always emphasized the importance of a complete exercise routine, and its role on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Exercise reduces your risk of numerous health conditions, slows down the rate of aging, and even regenerates the energy-producing mitochondria in your cells.

However, he advises against putting too much emphasis on cardio, strength training, or any one type of exercise, as this may only lead to imbalances that can damage your health. Instead, he recommends a fitness regimen that includes aerobic, strength training, and high-intensity interval training, like Peak Fitness.

“As always, as you develop a workout routine that works for you, remember to listen to your body so it can guide you into a path that will provide you with the most efficient and effective benefits,” Dr Mercola says.
This article can be found at

You’ll also be able to watch a video of safe squats for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels on this page too.

By Dr Mercola

One of the key health benefits of exercise is that it helps normalize your glucose, insulin, and leptin levels by optimizing insulin/leptin receptor sensitivity. This is perhaps the most important factor for optimizing your overall health and preventing chronic disease.

But exercise affects your body in countless other ways as well—both directly and indirectly. Here, however, even the most unexpected side effects are almost universally beneficial. For example, as illustrated in the featured article, 1 side effects of exercise include but are not limited to:

· Improved sexual function
· Changes in gene expression
· Clearer skin
· Improved mood
· Improved sleep

What Happens in Your Body When You Exercise?
The featured article in Huffington Post2 highlights a number of biological effects that occur, from head to toe, when you exercise. This includes changes in your:

· Muscles, which use glucose and ATP for contraction and movement. To create more ATP, your body needs extra oxygen, so breathing increases and your heart starts pumping more blood to your muscles.
Without sufficient oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. Tiny tears in your muscles make them grow bigger and stronger as they heal.

· Lungs. As your muscles call for more oxygen (as much as 15 times more oxygen than when you’re at rest), your breathing rate increases. Once the muscles surrounding your lungs cannot move any faster, you’ve reached what’s called your VO2 max—your maximum capacity of oxygen use. The higher your VO2 max, the fitter you are.

· Heart. As mentioned, your heart rate increases with physical activity to supply more oxygenated blood to your muscles. The fitter you are, the more efficiently your heart can do this, allowing you to work out longer and harder. As a side effect, this increased efficiency will also reduce your resting heart rate. Your blood pressure will also decrease as a result of new blood vessels forming.

· Brain. The increased blood flow also benefits your brain, allowing it to almost immediately function better. As a result, you tend to feel more focused after a workout. Furthermore, exercising regularly will promote the growth of new brain cells. In your hippocampus, these new brain cells help boost memory and learning. As stated in the featured article:

“When you work out regularly, your brain gets used to this frequent surge of blood and adapts by turning certain genes on or off. Many of these changes boost brain cell function and protect from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or even stroke, and ward off age-related decline.”

A number of neurotransmitters are also triggered, such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA. Some of these are well-known for their role in mood control. Exercise, in fact, is one of the most effective prevention and treatment strategies for depression.

· Joints and bones, as exercise can place as much as five or six times more than your body weight on them. Peak bone mass is achieved in adulthood and then begins a slow decline, but exercise can help you to maintain healthy bone mass as you get older.

Weight-bearing exercise is actually one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis, as your bones are very porous and soft, and as you get older, your bones can easily become less dense and hence, more brittle – especially if you are inactive.

Read the rest of this article at

Q: What is DOMS?

A: Most people who exercise have had delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It’s considered to be caused by microlesions (tears) in the muscle and connective tissues; the result of micro-trauma which, in turn, is caused by underpreparing the muscles for load and impact, or by working them beyond their capacity.

This trauma triggers an inflammatory response. Symptoms vary in intensity, but include muscular pain, muscle tenderness, stiffness, swelling and loss of strength.

The effects of DOMS can steadily peak within the first 48 hours following intense activity and last up to a week. The bigger and more superficial muscular groups tend to be the most susceptible.

Q: What would be your top tips for reducing DOMS post-workout?

A: As with most things in life, prevention is better than cure. Preparation is key so don’t rush and never skip the warm up. Make sure you warm up the same muscles and movement patterns that you’ll be using in the workout. Manage the intensity of your workouts; by all means push yourself, but be mindful of the level of effort and stress your body is used to and increase it gradually over time, aiming for incremental, but progressive gains.

However, if you’ve got DOMS, the bad news is that you’re mostly stuck with it until it wears off. You can’t ‘cure’ it but there are some options for reducing the symptoms or discomfort. Different ones work better for different people however, these 3 tips may help:

1) stay active – though conventional static stretching has shown to have no significant effect, low level and low intensity activity has been shown to decrease muscular sensitivity. Aim for light, multi-joint movement. Involve the joints above and below the points of tenderness. Think walking, cycling (possibly stationary), ergo/cross-trainer, swimming, Pilates, yoga or possibly a light jog/run.

2) massage – studies show massage can be effective in reducing DOMS-related muscle soreness.

3) self myofascial release (SMR) – evidence suggests that foam rolling not only reduces the pain and discomfort of DOMS, but can also reduce the decrease in performance that frequently comes with it.

Q: Why does pain sometimes feel worse 2 days after exercising?

A: There is no definitive conclusion as to why it can take a little longer for the symptoms to peak but it’s generally considered that the pain of DOMS is the by-product not of the exercise itself, but of inflammation which is part of the body’s healing process. This takes a few hours to get fully underway and as the muscles most affected are the ones that are least capable/prepared to cope with the amount/intensity of the exercise, the recovery process takes longer.

Helping prevent DOMS:
As mentioned, it’s important to warm up the same muscles and movement patterns you’ll be using in the workout. Here’s one exercise using a foam roller to help with DOMS

This is great (if sometimes a little painful) for improving circulation and muscle elasticity around some of the muscle groups most prone to DOMS:

• Lie face down, forearms on the floor, one leg straight with the quad resting on the roller, the other leg bent with the knee and foot taking some of your bodyweight.
• Roll slowly backwards and forwards between the hip and the top of the knee, pausing on any tight or tender spots
• For a more intense roll, lift the supporting leg and cross the foot over the other ankle, transferring your weight onto the quad
• Repeat on the opposite quad
• Then rotate the torso 90 degrees with the roller just below the hip bone, weight on the forearm only
• Roll slowly along the outer thigh, between the hip and the top of the knee
• If that’s too intense, put the foot of the top leg on the floor in front of the knee to support your bodyweight
• Repeat on the other side

Fitpro class handout

Susan also believes that relaxing for 20-30 mins in a warm bath which has Epsom salts/magnesium flakes added helps to relieve tired and achy muscles.

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good? From boosting your mood to improving your sex life, find out how exercise can improve your life.

Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability. Need more convincing to exercise? Check out these 7 ways exercise can improve your life.

No 1: Exercise controls weight
Exercise can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways — by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or revving up your household chores.

No 2: Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
Worried about heart disease? Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

No 3: Exercise improves mood
Need an emotional lift? Or need to blow off some steam after a stressful day? A workout at the gym or a brisk 30-minute walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

No 4: Exercise boosts energy
Winded by grocery shopping or household chores? Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and help your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores

No 5: Exercise promotes better sleep
Struggling to fall asleep? Or to stay asleep? Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, or you may be too energized to fall asleep.

No 6: Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
Do you feel too tired or too out of shape to enjoy physical intimacy? Regular physical activity can leave you feeling energized and looking better, which may have a positive effect on your sex life. But there’s more to it than that. Regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise.

No 7: Exercise can be fun

Exercise and physical activity can be a fun way to spend some time. It gives you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. So, take a dance class, hit the hiking trails or join a soccer team. Find a physical activity you enjoy, and just do it. If you get bored, try something new.

The bottom line on exercise
Exercise and physical activity are a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health concerns.

by Mayo Clinic staff

I’m sure you’ve all read that obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in this country and that we must all TAKE ACTION! However many people are unaware of the many other benefits (beside weight management) of regular exercise that all add up to a happier, healthier person regardless of their weight, size or shape!

Most people automatically associate exercise with weight loss and are unaware of the many additional benefits to our physical and mental health that regular moderate physical activity brings:

Did you know that EXERCISE:
1. Reduces the initial risk of disease eg. heart disease, hypertension, stroke
2. Can help in the management of existing disease eg. diabetes, arthritis, back pain
3. Helps to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in our blood
4. Promotes regular and good quality sleep patterns
5. Increases bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
6. Improves your strength
7. Increases your stamina
8. Improves your muscle tone
9. Can increase your flexibility making everyday tasks easier
10. Improves your balance
11. Can reduce depression and improve your mood
12. Can boost your self-esteem and body image
13. Promotes a healthy immune system and helps ward off coughs, colds and infections
14. Encourages social interaction
15. Can reduce stress/anxiety and promote relaxation
16. Boosts your energy levels
17. Promotes better posture
18. Maintains independence in later life
19. Can be fun!
20. Keeps our heart healthy – the main reason we should ALL be exercising!

Pre-workout meal ideas

Are you wondering what foods to eat before workout? Here we have some pre-workout meal and snack ideas to ensure you fuel your exercise correctly by eating the right kind of workout foods including important carbohydrates and fats.
The two fuels that the body uses during exercise are carbohydrate and fat; during high and moderate intensity exercise more carbohydrate is used. The body stores carbohydrate in small amounts in the liver and muscles, as glycogen; it is therefore important to make sure that the glycogen stores of the liver and muscles are optimal before exercise as they are depleted during training. The carbohydrate in your diet will provide some energy during exercise mainly from starchy snacks and sugary drinks that you take immediately before and during exercise.
The best advice regarding workout foods is to eat a meal 3 to 4 hours before exercise and have a small snack just before, ideally between 1 and 2 hours before your workout. So, if you plan to go to the gym at 5.30pm, try to have a meal (lunch) at 1.30pm and then a snack at 4pm.

Pre-workout meal ideas — foods suitable for 3-4 hours before exercise:
· A small baked potato and baked beans or cottage cheese
· Six crackers and cottage cheese followed by a piece of fruit
· Porridge with a banana
· Rice with vegetables and lean meat
· Pasta and sauce (for example: low-fat tomato and bacon sauce or Bolognese)
· Two slices of toast, peanut butter and a banana
· Two Weetabix and a small glass of pure fruit juice
· A small baked potato with tuna and reduced fat mayonnaise and a fruit yoghurt

Pre-workout snack ideas — foods suitable for 1-2 hours before exercise:

· One slice of toast and jam
· One small flapjack (oat bar)
· One slice of fruit cake
· A piece of fruit
· some yoghurt
· A cereal bar
· A small bowl of cereal

Not only should you think about your food intake before exercise, but you also need to consider the fluid that you drink. Don’t turn up to a class or the gym or go for a run dehydrated, you should be fully hydrated prior to taking any exercise. Dehydration is easy to detect, when you pass water, make sure that it is as clear as possible. The darker the colour of your urine, the more dehydrated you are. Also, the frequency with which you pass urine can indicate whether you are drinking enough, if you only pass water once or twice a day it’s time to consider drinking more fluid.

So what should I drink when I am exercising?
When you are exercising for less than an hour; water or a hypotonic drink (a drink providing more water than carbohydrate) is the best to take. This is recommended for people who are at a class/the gym or running for less than an hour.
If you are unsure about whether you have had enough fluid before you exercise, try to keep a ‘drinking diary’. This will help you remember to keep hydrated and maintain your fluid intake throughout the day before you exercise.

If you are trying to be healthy and avoid or cut back on sugar, wheat and dairy, breakfast can be the trickiest meal to find healthy but decent substitutes. Yet for many people, breakfast is also one of the most important meals of the day.

In this article, here are some favourite breakfast ideas, to give you loads of energy. These breakfast foods help to create vibrant health, whilst also enabling me to stay strong and create flexibility.

Breakfast #1: Smoothie

Smoothies are one of the all time favourite breakfast foods. The reason for this is that beyond being delicious, they are very easy to make and are super quick to prepare.

You can whip up a couple of fresh smoothies from real food in minutes. You can make smoothies with a few ingredients, little food preparation and absolutely no cooking. Perhaps, the best reason of all is that you’re left with very few dishes to do as well! (and, first thing in the morning, this is a big bonus!)

If you are really short on time, smoothies can be prepared the night before and whizzed up in seconds just before you are ready to eat. If you need to leave the house early, smoothies make an excellent meal on the go as you can take them with you.

Another great reason to include smoothies in your breakfast routine is that the different variations you can make are limited only by your imagination. Choose from an indulgent chocolate smoothie to a tropical fruit smoothie to an ultra healthy, nutrient-rich green smoothie.

Breakfast #2: Coconut yoghurt and fresh fruit

If you love yoghurt, but have difficulty digesting it, try coconut yoghurt. You can buy it from a health food shop (Real Foods have it) (read the label to make sure you avoid any preservatives or artificial additives) or you can even make your own.

Use coconut yoghurt just as you would normal yoghurt, and serve it with fresh fruit salad for a lovely, light summer breakfast. I like to sprinkle this with any superfoods that I have on hand. Be adventurous and try different types of superfoods until you find ones that you like. Some favourites are Goji berries, seeds and nuts.

Another lovely variation is to grind linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds (also called LSA) in a coffee grinder. This can be stored in a glass jar and used as required. Try sprinkling this over (and into) fruit salad, green salads and even breakfast smoothies. Sprinkling LSA into your diet is good for your immune system, digestive system, skin and liver. It is full of fibre and is rich in essential fatty acids.

For the very brave, top your fruit with superfood green powder such as spirulina, chlorella or barley grass.

Breakfast #3: Bircher muesli

Borrowed from the Swiss, Bircher muesli is a delicious breakfast food (or anytime snack!). Bircher muesli is not cooked and is made from mixing together oats, milk (organic or nut milk), grated apple, apple juice, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and a selection of chopped nuts and seeds.

What I really like about Bircher muesli is that you can make it and store it in the fridge for several days. It makes a tasty, quick breakfast and also is a great snack if you get the afternoon or evening munchies!

To make Bircher muesli simply soak together equal amounts of oats and milk. Add about half as much apple juice. Leave for a few hours, or even overnight and when you are ready to eat serve with 1-2 grated apples. Add to taste your desired amounts of honey (or maple syrup), juice of ½ lime, vanilla and generous amounts of thick, creamy yoghurt.

If you are sensitive to dairy, you can replace it with a non-dairy substitute. Here are some of my preferred substitutes. Use coconut yoghurt or if you want to avoid dairy altogether, omit the yoghurt and soak the oats in nut milk (Almond milk is a favourite as it tastes lovely). If you find that the texture is a bit runny, add in some mashed banana, just before serving your muesli, which will help to thicken it up. Feel free to leave out the oats (or use gluten-free oats) if you are sensitive to gluten.

This is such an adaptable recipe. It is delicious made with banana, pomegranate, fresh berries, stewed peaches, plums or rhubarb, different nuts and seeds or even carob powder (or dark chocolate) for the ultimate indulgence.

Breakfast #4: Eggs

Eggs are a great breakfast choice. High in protein and filling they are very filling. If you experience sugar cravings throughout the day, try having eggs for breakfast. They are very versatile and can be prepared in a number of different, but healthy way if you are mindful of how you cook them and with what you eat with them.

To make healthy version of poached eggs, fill a fry pan with water and bring this to the boil. Turn the heat down to medium so the water is now simmering. Add in 1- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a sprinkle of sea salt. Into the simmering water, gently crack 2 eggs per person. Leave them to cook for a few minutes. As a guide, the poached eggs are ready when the whites are firm but the yolks are still soft in the centre. Scoop the eggs out of the water and drain off the excess water. Serve poached eggs on a big bed of freshly steamed spinach with fresh parsley, cracked black pepper and flaky sea salt. This dish makes an ideal weekend brunch.

Alternatively, you can make a version of healthy scrambled eggs. In a fry pan, melt a small amount of coconut oil. Add in your choice of chopped tomatoes, onions and courgettes and spinach. Cook for a minute or so, until the vegetables start to cook and onion goes golden brown. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 eggs per person, with 2 tablespoons of water (or nut milk). Add this to the vegetables. Watch carefully and cook this mixture over medium heat. This is ready to eat when the eggs start to set and turn golden brown.

Eggs are always a weekend winner, especially when served with generous amounts of well-presented, fresh herbs and whole foods on the side. You could serve eggs with large amounts of freshly sliced avocado, drizzled with organic extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped parsley and fresh chives. Always take care to buy organic, free-range eggs and never eat fried eggs.

Breakfast #5: Chia Pudding

Chia is an ancient grain that has been eaten for centuries, dating right back to the Aztecs and the Mayans.

Rich in micronutrients and high in essential fatty acids and amino acids, Chia seed is an ideal breakfast choice. You can make a delicious chia pudding by mixing chia seeds together with any liquid of your choice. Use water, nut milk, or fresh juice, as you fancy. Be adventurous and experiment with different flavourings. Try fresh berries, vanilla, orange zest , stewed apple, mashed or sliced banana or cinnamon.

To make chia pudding, for every ½ cup chia seeds, add 3 cups of liquid. This could be nut milk, fresh apple juice or a combined mixture of the two. Stir and leave this mixture in a big bowl for at least 10 minutes. The chia seeds will start to expand, becoming jelly-like and your pudding will begin to thicken.

Next, add a natural sweetener of your choice, plus additional flavours such as grated cinnamon, pure vanilla, strawberries (or other fruit) and cacao nibs. You could drizzle chia pudding with coconut nectar (or maple syrup).

Chia pudding keeps well in the fridge and as well as breakfast, makes a fabulous snack at any time of the day. (You can buy Chia seeds in Real Foods/Holland & Barrett or from

Breakfast is such an important meal. I like to think of breakfast as an opportunity to celebrate the arrival of a new day. When you start your day off eating a good, healthy breakfast, the rest of your food choices throughout the day are much more likely to be health-inspired.

With awareness and a little forward planning, you can easily create a variety of healthy breakfast foods that you will enjoy, and will have you looking and feeling great all day long.
By Katrina Love Senn/MindBodyGreen

Water is the second essential nutrient we need – the first being oxygen! It makes up approximately 60-70% of our body weight and we would not generally survive for more than 4 days without it. Water has many important and vital functions to carry out in our bodies on a daily basis, it has to lubricate and cushion our joints, carry the food we ingest around our bodies, helps to balance our blood volume and helps to eliminate waste and toxins through elimination. All of this has a huge impact on the health of our internal organs and their function – in particular the kidneys! We lose water on a regular basis through urine, the skin/sweat and when we breathe. Since we lose water on such a regular basis, we therefore need to replace it regularly by eating and drinking the correct foods.

Body Temperature: When we exercise, our body temperature goes up as our muscles produce heat, then we lose it by sweating – our body’s natural way of cooling us down. The safe limit for our temperature to be at is 37-38 degrees. A litre of sweat is equal to approximately 600 calories and we need to replace this with fluids. The more a person sweats, the more water they need to take in. One hour of exercise or physical activity is equal to approximately 1 litre of fluid. The easiest way to see how much fluid you are losing through exercise is to weigh yourself before and after. Every kilogram lost through exercise needs to be replaced with 1 litre of fluids.

Dehydration: If our bodies become dehydrated, we would feel confused, suffer from constipation, headaches, light-headedness, nausea and generally feel drained. Our bodies wouldn’t be able to carry out their necessary functions and our body temperature and heart rate would rise. Basically everything becomes harder work for our bodies including our circulatory system. The only way to make sure none of these symptoms happen and that our body water doesn’t drop below it’s normal range is to drink at least 1.5 litres of water per day. It is difficult to give an exact amount as we are all built differently, consume different calories and have different lifestyles where exercise etc is concerned. A rough guide is that for every 1000 calories consumed, 1 litre of water should be consumed. Obviously water is not the only fluid that has an affect on our fluid balance.

Juices and soft drinks also count and make up part of our fluid intake. Fruit juice, and in particular apple juice, can help to reduce our risk of Alzheimers in later life. Recent research says that if we drink 3 glasses per day of apple juice, it can reduce our risk of this disease by 76%. However this amount is rather a lot as whether we have 1 or 3 glasses of juice per day it will still only count as 1 portion of fruit – that’s just the way it works! Tea, and particularly green tea, also counts as part of our fluid intake. Tea – black, green or red has many nutritional benefits as it contains polyphenols which is an antioxidant, (antioxidants help to disarm the free radicals) and has even more antioxidants than a lot of fruit and vegetables! Drinking 4 -6 cups of tea a day gives enough of these polyphenols to help prevent many cancers such as skin, oseophageal and gastric as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Tea also helps to lower cholesterol levels and helps to prevent blood from clotting. Green tea is the most beneficial as it contains catechin polyphenols but in particular epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is an extremely powerful antioxidant. This particular antioxidant can help to prevent the growth of cancer cells whilst at the same time not harming the healthy cells and tissue!

Where fluids and exercise are concerned, there are different types of fluids that we can consume in order to help us perform and recover more efficiently. If you are exercising at a low to moderate intensity for 1 hour or less, plain water is ideal. If exercising for longer and at a higher intensity, then a sports drink would be more sufficient. A sports drink contains electrolytes and is much more effective at rehydrating. Electrolytes contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride and are dissolved in the fluid of the body. They help to balance the fluids in the body and regulate the body’s functions.
When looking at the possible benefits of a drink, we need to look at the drinks osmolality – the way the fluid is managed and the amount of dissolved particles in a fluid. These particles may contain glucose, sodium, polymers, sugars and other electrolytes. The osmolality of a drink decides which way the fluid will move across a membrane.

Glucose polymers (malodextrins) are in most sports drinks and are made from cornstarch which has been chemically treated. The main reason for adding these to a sports drink is that they add to the carbohydrate content of a drink whilst not affecting the concentration and speed of absorption of the drink. These types of drinks are beneficial if exercising for longer than 90 minutes at a high intensity and need to refuel during the workout.

Fluid replacement drinks are made up of electrolytes and carbohydrates and help to maintain the blood sugar level and save the glycogen. These types of drinks are useful if running a marathon as they can help to maintain the blood volume and lessen the need to pass water. If exercising for more than 90 minutes, we should consume either a hypotonic drink or an isotonic drink. Hypotonic drinks are absorbed quicker than plain water and have less than 4 grams of carbohydrates per 100ml. These have quite a low concentration and have less carbohydrates and electrolytes than our body’s own fluids. Isotonic drinks have 4-8 grams of carbohydrates per 100ml and have the same concentration of particles as our own body’s fluids. These are absorbed by the body quicker than just plain water. Hypertonic drinks have 8 grams of carbohydrates per 100ml and can sometimes have up to 20 grams of carbohydrates per 100ml.

We have only really scratched the surface on fluids. There is more that could be said on soft drinks and juices, much more to be said on sports drinks and we haven’t even mentioned coffee or alcohol. Obviously alcohol doesn’t help to rehydrate us but it does count as a nutrient as it contains calories! Also red wine does contain flavonoids as do hops and beer which is an antioxidant, not that I am suggesting we all go drinking tonight! However we can see that it has some small benefits.
Article by Linda H

By Jen Broyles

Superfoods are all the rage these days and there’s good reason for it. They are more than all-natural, whole foods – they are in fact both a food and a medicine. Superfoods are the most nutrient-rich, potent, concentrated foods on the plant. They are the ideal choice for improving one’s health, boosting the immune system, cleansing, reducing inflammation, alkalizing the body, boosting serotonin production, and enhancing sexuality. Below are a few of my favourite superfoods. They’re delicious and are great in combination with each other. They taste great and make you feel great!

1. Goji Berries

Goji berries are delicious, little, nutrient-packed red berries that look similar to raisins. They are a complete protein source containing 18 different amino acids and all 8 essential amino acids. They contain many trace minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, selenium, phosphorous and calcium. Goji berries also contain some of the highest levels of antioxidants of any food in the world (2 to 4 times the amount found in blueberries). Also, they boost immune function, increase alkalinity, protect the liver, improve eyesight and blood quality, and provide anti-aging benefits.

Best ways to use:
Goji berries are great on salads, in smoothies, added to trail mix, or eaten alone.

2. Cacao

Cacao, or raw chocolate, is the highest antioxidant food on the planet. This is fantastic news for all you chocolate lovers out there! Of course the raw form of chocolate is the healthiest because it has not been processed and no sugar has been added. Cacao is a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron, manganese and chromium. It elevates your mood and energy, builds strong bones, improves cardiovascular health, and is a natural aphrodisiac.

Best ways to use:
You can purchase cacao in powdered form or nibs. I love the powdered cacao to add to smoothies, and use in desserts. I put cacao in my morning smoothie everyday!!!

3. Raw Honey

Bee products, such as bee pollen and propolis, are packed with vitamins and minerals. Raw honey is not only amazingly delicious, but is rich in minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotics. Honey can also be used topically to heal wounds. Although raw honey has many nutritional properties, it is still a form of sugar, so consume in moderation.

Best ways to use:
Raw honey is a great natural sweetener to use in herbal teas, smoothies, and desserts

4. Coconut Oil

Coconut products (coconut oil, flesh, cream, water) are packed with fabulous nutrients. Coconut oil is very valuable to the immune system as it contains antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. It also improves digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and amino acids. Coconut oil improves the utilization of blood sugar and improves the absorption of calcium and magnesium. Coconut oil consists of over 90% raw saturated fats in the form of medium chain fatty acids, which support the immune system, thyroid gland, nervous system, skin, and provide fast energy. It can also be used topically as a soothing moisturizer.

Best ways to use:
Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to smoothies, or use it in place of olive oil for cooking. Coconut oil is the most stable oil at high temperatures, so it does not turn rancid. Therefore, it is ideal for cooking.

5. Spirulina

Spirulina is a type of algae that provides a wide array of minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes. Additionally, spirulina is the world’s highest source of complete protein (65%). It is packed with iron, chlorophyll, and antioxidants. Spirulina also contains sulfur, which improves the immune system, physical strength, flexibility, complexion, healing speed, and liver and pancreas functionality.

Best ways to use:
Spirulina can be purchased in powdered form and added to smoothies or sprinkled on salads. If you’re new to spirulina, I recommend starting with a small amount and gradually increasing, so you can grow accustomed to the taste. Plus, be aware that it will turn your smoothies green!

These are just a few of the many great superfoods out there. To learn more, check out David Wolfe’s book Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future.

I hope you enjoy giving these tips a try! What are your favourite superfoods?

1 Be aware of the pitfalls of high expectations and lower self expectations

2 Be aware of any personal change in physical fitness, emotional state or inter-personal habits.

3 Be prepared to take better care of yourself … including having fun!

4 Increase your support system in all areas.’

5 Withdraw from stress producing situations.

6 Increase your alone/me time

7 Evaluate your eating habits, make sure that you eat regularly and have well balanced nutritious meals

8 Learn how much sleep you need for optimum functioning and make sure you get it.

9 Exercise on a regular basis.

10 Be honest with yourself and others about who you are and what you need – you may need some help or support, you can’t do everything all by yourself

11 Be willing to take risks to make change if you decide change is necessary.

12 Be willing to seek professional help if you feel unable to sort things out.

In a nation where most adults enjoy a drink, understanding the risks and benefits of alcohol is key:

Units of alcohol
Alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes, hence recommendations for alcohol intakes are based on the number of units. In the UK, one alcoholic unit is measured as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. This equals: one 25ml measure of a standard spirit (ABV 40%), 1/3 of a pint of a stronger ale or lager (ABV 5-67%), 175ml of wine (ABV 12%).

UK guidelines recommend that healthy men and women (not pregnant or breastfeeding) drink no more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, the advice is that you spread your drinking over 3 or more days and include some alcohol-free days in the week. Consuming more than this weekly recommended limit is considered ‘heavy drinking’.

Possible benefits
Light to moderate drinking is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, while heavy drinking appears to increase the risk. The benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are particularly observed in middle age when heart disease begins to account for an increasingly large share of disease and deaths. The social and psychological benefits of alcohol also can’t be ignored; after all an occasional drink can be a real tonic.

The dark side
Alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The research suggests that the difference lies mostly in the dose. Heavy drinking is bad for health; leading to malnutrition, inflammation of the liver and eventually liver cirrhosis. There is increasing research that shows that even an occasional binge is bad for you. The risks of light to moderate alcohol intake however, are less clear. Some research suggests that any alcohol at all increases the risk of certain cancers; alcohol blocks the absorption of folate and it is thought that this interaction may be how alcohol increases the risk of breast colon and other cancers. Alcohol also affects your appetite, particularly for high-fat foods. It is very rich in energy, packing 7 ‘empty’ calories per gram.

What’s the best drink to have?
There has been a lot of excitement about compounds found in red wine (resveratrol) being good for you. The fact still remains that consuming high amounts of red wine does not equal greater health benefits. Ultimately, the research shows that what you drink (beer or wine, diet mixer or not) matters less than how much you drink or how you drink. Having 7 drinks one day or none for the rest of the week isn’t the same as having one drink a day. Although the weekly total may be the same, the health implications are not.

Sensible drinking
Here are some tips to ensure you stay within the sensible drinking guidelines:
1. If you don’t drink, there is no need to start
2. If you do drink, enjoy whatever drink you like but keep within the recommended amounts.
3. Keep water available to quench your thirst while drinking alcoholic beverages
4. Consider taking a multivitamin with folic acid if you drink regularly and have other risk factors for heart disease or colon and breast cancer
5. Eat before you drink.
In a nation where approximately 90% of adults enjoy a drink, it is therefore vital to understand the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption.

How much stress are you carrying around? Do you feel burdened by life’s circumstances and emotional issues? Becoming more grounded and happy starts with letting go of worry and stress. I learned this in my own journey, through overcoming drug addictions, healing myself from depression, and walking away from a career in corporate to follow my heart and be a successful writer and life coach. In the process, I had to let go of a lot of things to become the person I am today.

Physically, spiritually and emotionally, I had to learn how to let go of the person I thought I should be in order to be the person I really wanted to be. Letting go of anything in life can be a little scary, but it can also be an amazing act of self-love.

Letting go of my worries and stress made a difference for me; of course I still dip in and out of some of my stress jar from time to time, but I’ve found this list a good reminder of what I need to strive for each day in order to reach unlimited happiness.

Here are 20 things to let go of in order to reach unlimited happiness.

1. Let go of all thoughts that don’t make you feel empowered and strong.
2. Let go of feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.
3. Let go of the fear of the unknown; take 1 small step and watch the path reveal itself.
4. Let go of regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.
5. Let go of worrying; worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.
6. Let go of blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have 2 choices, accept it or change it.
7. Let go of thinking you are damaged; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are.
8. Let go of thinking your dreams are not important; always follow your heart.
9. Let go of being the “go-to person” for everyone, all the time; stop blowing yourself off and take care of yourself first … because you matter.
10. Let go of thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. You are right where you need to be. Your journey is unfolding perfectly for you.
11. Let go of thinking there’s a right and wrong way to do things or to see the world. Enjoy the contrast and celebrate the diversity and richness of life.
12. Let go of cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.
13. Let go of thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.
14. Let go of anger toward ex lovers and family. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong.
15. Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you’ve done the best you can, and that’s enough.
16. Let go of thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.
17. Let go of your money woes — make a plan to pay off debt and focus on your abundance.
18. Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.
19. Let go of trying to fit in and be accepted by everyone. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.
20. Let go of self-hate. You are not the shape of your body or the number on the scale. Who you are matters, and the world needs you as you are. Celebrate you!
article by MindBodyGreen

1. It’s a calorie burner: even when you are not working out, resistance training continues to burn calories. Muscle burns calories and will naturally increase your calorie burn. An analysis reported in the July-August 2012 Current Sports Medicine Reports showed the number of calories your burn at rest rises about 7% after several weeks of resistance training.
2. It increases bone density: women lose approximately 50% of their bone tissue in their lifetime, half within 10 years after menopause, according to The National Institutes of Health. The 2004 American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine notes that lifting weights can help slow the process of decreased loss and increase bone density.
3. Menopause Symptoms: many symptoms such as fatigue, hot flashes, insomnia, mood changes, weight gain, and joint pain can be lessened or avoided.
4. Overall body strength: your overall body composition can change assisting you in achieving a leaner, more contoured and healthy body. Your strength will increase allowing your body to slow the process and stop muscle mass and bone density loss.

Osteoporosis: Exercise at Menopause: a Critical Difference

Strength training can help with bone and muscle mass loss in menopause – recent studies support the use of muscle-strengthening exercise to attenuate bone loss in menopause.
I have found resistance, strength and weight training to be a big help in keeping my body equally strong, keeping the weight off and staying lean. To boot, an increased energy level.

Summing It Up!
1. Resistance training will help you build more lean body mass
2. Resistance training helps change your body composition
2. Resistance training helps maintain healthy muscle mass and bone density
3. Resistance training helps speed up metabolism
4. Resistance training will keep your weight down and maintain body shape. Strength-training exercises can help improve the shape of your body and your muscles, giving you feminine looking curves.
5. Resistance training is necessary to increase metabolism that slows down as you enter peri-menopause and menopause. It will help balance out your entire body. No matter your age, condition, fitness level or weight, it’s a valuable way to managing menopause body changes.

Article by

Mood swings and depression are among the more troublesome menopause symptoms and can bring about a lack of energy during menopause.
Adding certain foods such as blueberries, strawberries, beans, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, carrots, apple, ginger, parsley, coconut water, almond milk and butter and combining them to make healthy juices or smoothies can help increase your energy.
Why? These and certain other foods contain the amino acid tryptophan, a building block of the “feel good” chemical serotonin, Serotonin levels affect mood, appetite, and sleep.
One of the best ways to get your energy levels up is with nutrient-packed juice or smoothies

1) Mood Boosting Juice

This mood-boosting juice will supply about 25% of you daily potassium.
A study in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that diets higher in potassium and lower in sodium have a positive effect on mood.
Another study, an Italian study, showed that people with higher levels of carotenoids had less depression.

Drink this juice for pure bliss!

3 carrots, peeled
1 apple, cored and seeded
1 lemon, peeled and seeded
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
1 cup fresh parsley, with stems
1 cup coconut water

In a juicer, process carrots, apple, lemon, ginger and parsley into juice.
Combine juice mixture with coconut water and 1 cup water.

2) Mood Enhancing Smoothie

This smoothie is a perfect “brain” drink when combined with a few simple ingredients. The fibre in cannellini beans helps keep blood sugars on an even keel, preventing post-meal “brain fog”.

A study in The Journal of Nutrition showed that a combined deficiency of iron and omega-3 fats hinders long-term memory.
This smoothie helps combat the deficiency with iron-rich beans and flaxseeds high in omega-3s!

1 raw Brazil nut, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup fresh or frozen strawberries
½ cup drained and rinsed cannellini beans (no cooking required, omit this ingredient if you prefer to keep this smoothie 100% raw
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds

Add all ingredients in a blender and 2 cups of water. Blend until smooth. (add a few pieces of ice and chop if you prefer it cold and to consistency)

3) Morning Energizing Smoothie

Good digestion is key to being more energetic in the morning. Chicory root has been shown to increase intestinal bacteria which aids digestion. Prunes are more effective than fibre supplements at getting “things moving”

2 tsp chicory root instant coffee substitute
3 pitted prunes
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp natural unsweetened almond butter
6 ice cubes

In a small heat-proof bowl add chicory, prunes and 1 cup of boiling water. Let soak for 10 minutes until prunes are softened

Transfer mixture with liquid to a blender. Add almond milk and butter then blend. Add ice slowly to desired consistency.

4) Stress Busting Juice

After a long day, this soothing juice will de-stress you. Nutrients such as folic acid, which helps create dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.

Vitamin C also plays a key role as it has been shown to reduce stress and return blood pressure and corticol to normal levels after a stressful day or situation.

1 chamomile tea bag
2 oranges, peeled
1 cucumber, with peel
1 head romaine lettuce, trimmed
20 mint leaves

In a small heat-proof cup, pour ½ cup boiling water
Add tea bag and steep for 3-5 minutes
Remove tea bag and transfer tea to freezer to cool, about 5 minutes
Meanwhile, using a juicer, process remaining ingredients into juice.
Combine tea with juice mixture



By Sara Courter/MindBodyGreen

Are you your own toughest critic? I am. Can you dole out stinging opinions to yourself like a black jack dealer? I can. Are you hard on yourself more frequently than you would be with a loved one? You bet I am.

We all fall victim to this unconscious mental script now and then. But you know what?

It’s no way to live!

If we’re out in this world striving to become our own best friends, our own dearest company and the best version of ourselves, why do we turn so viciously on ourselves the moment things gets rough?
I’m not good enough…I shouldn’t have said that…why did I say it that way?…I should have said something…I can’t believe I wore this out of the house…I am not funny I shouldn’t have made that joke…he thinks she’s prettier than me…they’re obviously laughing at me not with me…

Any of those sound even remotely familiar? It’s our little ego popping up and hammering away on our self-esteem. And you know what? Most, if not all of that, is not even true!

So here are three simple ways to start the process today of being kinder to yourself:

1. Be mindful of how your internal monologue sounds day in and day out.
Like any other habit, we can habitually talk down to ourselves. You know how you’ve always been told since childhood to “think before you speak?” Try it internally.

You can have harsh thoughts (since our minds are working at hyper speed these days), but take a moment to say, Whoa…that wasn’t nice. That right there is the kind of thought that is harming and punishing and mean. That is the kind of thought I’m not going to think towards myself anymore.

2. Develop a mantra. Whatever you want.
Choose something that will immediately jar you back into your state of self love, of “unlearning” the harsh, punishing thoughts that you so often barrage yourself with. Write it down and place it on a post-it on the rim of your computer screen at work, or on your steering wheel in the car, or put a reminder in your phone. Be diligent with this mantra, use it to reverse some of (and eventually all of) those unconscious thought patterns.

3. Only say things to yourself you’d say to your best friend.
I use this analogy again and again, but seriously think of how you’d approach your dearest loved one. You know when your best friend has been, say, dumped by a guy who is such a loser and she keeps sobbing and mourning the relationship for months and months? You know how you want to say, “Oh my God get over it you’re so much better than him why are you still sniveling?!”

But you don’t, do you?

No! You approach her tactfully, brimming with love and respect, and you help her pick up the pieces compassionately, understandingly. When the time comes to really help shake her out of her stupor, you still are kind and loving, albeit a little more direct.

Be this way with yourself: Direct and firm when needed, but saturated with compassion and kindness and, more than anything, love.

I think we are under the misconception that because nobody else hears what’s going on inside our heads, we can speak to ourselves however we want. Well, I’ve been under that misconception long enough and it’s time to change my tune. If I can’t set a standard of how I’ll stand for being spoken to by myself, how will I know how to react when others treat me poorly or are too hard on me?

Set the example within your own thoughts. Be mindful, employ a mantra, be patient and compassionate. It’s all a process. Learning to tune in and be aware of how our thoughts sound is the first step.

Our body and mind can be the most powerful tools to living a fulfilling and happy life, if we learn how properly to use them.
Published February 8, 2013

It might be time to put away all those expensive potions and lotions after trying coconut oil in your daily beauty regimen. It’s loaded with Vitamin E and fatty acids (such as lauric acid, myristic acid, capric acid and more) which are anti-fungal, anti-oxidizing and anti-bacterial, just the sort of stuff that our body happily responds to!

It can be used as an all-over moisturizer (with excellent results, apply right after showering and throughout the day), but here are eight different ways to take advantage of its natural goodness and treat problem areas.
I also added tips at the bottom of the page outlining what to look for when buying it and where to find it (locally and online).

For Dry & Damaged Hair:
· Simply work some into the damaged ends a half hour before showering.

Glossy, Shiny Locks & Frizz Buster:
· After washing, drying and styling, rub a small amount into the palms of your hands then lightly work it in.
· If dealing with frizz, the above treatment will also help tame it.

Exfoliating Facial Scrub:
· Mix with an equal part of baking soda and massage into face. Rinse with warm water to remove baking soda residue.

Dark Elbow Patches:
· Rub in each morning and night until desired results are achieved.

Dry Scalp:
Each night before going to bed, follow these steps:
· Part hair one section at a time and rub coconut oil into scalp. A light application is all that’s needed.
· Repeat process for entire head then massage for a few minutes to really work it in. Comb out any tangles with a wide tooth comb then put on a shower cap.
· Keep the treatment on overnight, cover pillow with a towel just in case the cap shifts in the middle of the night.
· Wash with shampoo as usual in the morning.
· Repeat daily until satisfied with the results (may take up to 5 weeks before the dryness is gone).

Rashes, Eczema, Psoriasis or Severe Dryness:
· Rub a bit into affected area and allow time for your body to absorb the nutrients. Treat daily for as long as needed.

· Clean face, pat dry then apply a light coating. Leave on overnight (allow at least 15 minutes to absorb it before going to bed). Repeat each night until desired results are achieved (may take some time depending on how severe the acne is).
· If dealing with back acne, wash and dry skin then apply some (do this at least 15 minutes before laying down or going to bed).

Note: Some may experience an increase in oily skin and breakouts, this can be the case for several days (even a week or two) until the skin is detoxified.

Athlete’s Foot & Nail Fungus:
· Apply twice each day to affected area covering it completely (once in the morning and once before bedtime).

It’s A Food Too!
Yes, this can be eaten too! Try it in cooking, in baking (replacing lard and fat) and as a spread (like butter).
Is it a super food? Metabolism booster? Diet miracle? I’m not ruling it out but there’s no definitive answer to that just yet (that I know of). Here are two resources to review to help form your own opinion: video series by Dr Oz (two parts, there’s a link under the first video to watch the next part). Also check out this article on The Guardian which lists some pros and cons: Coco Loco.

What To Buy & Where To Find It
· Choose pure virgin or extra-virgin (preferably organic) which is unrefined, cold-pressed and non-hydrogenated.
· To use: It will be solid (at room temperature), heat in a hot water bath for a couple minutes (scoop a spoonful into a small glass bowl that’s resting in hot water) or rub a bit between hands to soften and warm it up a bit.

How much to use:
A little goes a long way! apply in light layers so the body absorbs it readily.

Where to buy it:
Try the health food store (Real Foods have a great range), Holland & Barrett, online at shops like Amazon. This stuff is surprisingly inexpensive considering all the benefits it has to offer!

How to store it:
Keep it sealed in its original container in a cool, dark place (unrefrigerated). It has a shelf life of about 2 years.

Note: If allergic to coconut, chances are you’re not going to have a good experience using it topically. The best bet is to not use it as a beauty treatment to avoid any physical reactions an allergy may trigger.

By Angelina Helene/MindBodyGreen

Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases and health issues, everything from heart disease and Alzheimer’s, to fibromyalgia and even obesity!

While many doctors are finally jumping on the bandwagon, offering anti-inflammatory diets and supplements, there are many practices you can do at home that will help in the fight.

Here’s a quick primer on my 3-prong approach to an inflammation-free body!

Start to integrate a few of these strategies today to see a difference within a few days. The more you do, the better you’ll feel!

1. Eat a healthy diet.

Anyone dealing with chronic issues needs to choose organic as much as possible. While some doctors recommend eliminating carbs in general, I feel there is an easier and more sustainable way to quell inflammation while enjoying life!
· Aim to eat 80% unprocessed foods. Shoot for only 20% of your food coming from processed items – this would include pastas, breads, snack foods etc.
· Give gluten the heave-ho! Even people who aren’t gluten intolerance see marked changes once they eliminate this toxic grain!
· High veggie diet are the way to go. Be sure to limit the infamous nightshades that increase inflammation – such as tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and potatoes. (Limit to 2 times a week.)
· Choose sprouted grains and legumes. Many health food stores and even Whole Foods carry a wide array of sprouted products, from pastas to breads and even legumes. While sprouting doesn’t change the flavour of these products, it does enhance the body’s ability to digest them and unlocks the nutrients that wouldn’t be available in the un-sprouted form!

2. Be sensible about supplementation.

There’s no need for a giant supplement arsenal here. All you need are a few key products:
· Whole foods multi vitamin. This should be part of everyone’s regime, it will pick up where a less than stellar diet drops off. Even those uber-healthy eaters should include a good multi from time to time.
· Whole food Stress B formula. This is generally a broad spectrum B that helps the body defend against stress. Extras such as Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamins D & E can also be helpful.
· Omega 3’s. They’re THE inflammation busters when it comes to supplements. I like to include more than one and rotate every month or so. Ideally the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 should be 3:1 or better yet 2:1. Some great choices besides the standard fish oils are seeds such as flax, chia and hemp.
· Spice it up! Spices as supplements? You betcha. Two great ones that are in the forefront as anti inflammatories are ginger and turmeric – use these as often as possible! Fresh or dried, in foods or desserts.

3. Take some “Me time.”

Stress is a big contributor of chronic inflammation. One of the easiest ways to combat added stress is to get in touch with yourself and really take care of your body.

Taking a few minutes out of each day to meditate is a great start as is taking up yoga. Striking a pose not only helps with physical symptoms of inflammation like sore, tight muscles but pranayama (yoga breathing) increases oxygen and lowers stress.

Finishing up your day by soaking in a tub also helps the body release stress and by adding a few everyday items you can increase the power of the bath tenfold – try some Epsom Salt & Hydrogen Peroxide.

While this list isn’t exhaustive and seems simple, it’s a step in the right direction and shows you that fighting inflammation can be achieved cheaply and easily at home!

And to start out on your anti inflammatory quest try out my delicious Anti Inflammatory “Cure All” drink that I recommend to all my clients to quell their inflammation (also kills candida)

Enjoy this Anti-Inflammatory Cure-All
· 1 cup non dairy milk alternative (coconut, almond or other nut/seed milk)
· 1 tbs coconut oil
· 1 tsp Turmeric
· 2 tsp fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp dried
· ½ tsp cinnamon
· ½ tsp cardamom
· Stevia to sweeten
Simply drop 1tbs Coconut oil in small saucepan on the stove. When melted, add grated ginger and turmeric.

Stir to combine and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Add non-dairy alternative, stir to combine, and finally whisk in other ingredients.

Simmer to warm and enjoy!

There are lots of ways to protect yourself from the flu without relying on a flu shot. Here are Frank Lipman’s ( top 7 super simple recommendations:

1 Stock up on Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that keeps the body functioning optimally, and especially supports the immune system. Some studies have shown it to be a flu fighter. Interestingly, flu season corresponds with winter – the time of year when we are least able to take in adequate levels of Vitamin D from the primary source: sunshine! While a weekend trip to a sunny local would be a fun solution, at best that’s only temporary so I recommend taking a Vitamin D3 supplement daily. Please have your Vitamin D checked and ideally, you want your level between 50 and 80 ng/ml

2 Take a probiotic daily
A strong immune system relies heavily on having a healthy, well-functioning gut (as 70% of your immune system is in the gut)– and probiotics help keep your gut engine humming. Look for a probiotic with at least 10-20 billion organisms and take daily.

3 Feed your Immunity
In other words, avoid sugar, gluten, and processed foods – all of which dramatically decrease immune function and instead load up on nutrient rich whole foods. Start your day with a smoothie full of goodness in the form of healthy fats (almond or coconut milk, avocado, almond butter) some frozen berries, chia seeds and a good protein powder. Lunches and dinners of nourishing soups, colorful salads, and dark greens and veggies are packed with flu-fighting phytonutrients.

4 Give your body an easy antiviral boost
Antiviral herbs boost your immunity and help protect you without creating resistant viral strains. Four great antivirals are andrographis, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract and elderberry extract. You can also dig into Garlic, which has antiviral properties and is a known immunity booster.

5 Don’t skimp on sleep
Getting enough sleep is a key component to a flu free winter! There’s no better time for the body to restore and repair itself than while you rest. Shoot for at least 7 hours a night and try taking a 20-minute power nap if you’re falling short.

6 Chillax
Reducing stress is particularly important during flu season. Exercise helps to keep your immune system healthy, but don’t overdo it – your workout shouldn’t be a stress to your body! Light strength training, breathing exercises & yoga, or simply taking the time for things you enjoy will relieve tension and enhance physical and mental resilience.

7 Lay off the antibacterial soap & hand sanitizers
The antibacterial craze has created harsh products loaded with toxins that increase the risk of creating resistant bacteria. They also over-dry and crack the skin, making transmission of viruses that much easier. Instead, wash your hands frequently with good, old-fashioned hot water and chemical-free soap. When you feel the need for an on-the-spot cleaning, try a few drops of lavender essential oil for a natural hand sanitizer.
With these 7 easy and enjoyable tips, staying flu free this winter should be a breeze.

By Jen Broyles/MindBodyGreen

Juice bars are popping up on every corner, giving us healthy alternatives to our lattes, frappucinos, and mochas. You may be wondering: why is juicing so great?

Juicing is so beneficial to your health and wellbeing, as I’ll explain below.

Regardless of whether you get your green juice at a local juice bar or make it yourself, I encourage you to incorporate green juices into your routine. They taste great, and you will feel wonderful!

Here are some other great benefits of juicing:

1. It’s a good way to get your daily serving of fruits and veggies.

The majority of us definitely do not get our recommended 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Through juicing, you can easily get your daily intake of fruits and veggies without feeling super full.

Juicing extracts the insoluble fibre from the produce leaving just the amazing nutrients for your body to absorb! Plus, juicing is a great way to incorporate a wide variety of fruits and veggies into your diet rather than sticking to the same boring salad everyday.

2. You’ll absorb nutrient better with less digestion.

Many of us have compromised digestion due to the poor food choices we’ve made over the years. This limits our ability to absorb all of the nutrients from the vegetables we eat.

Juicing is a great way to get a bunch of nutrients delivered straight to your cells, super-fast, while giving your digestive system a break. Since the vegetables have been “pre-digested” through juicing, your body can absorb virtually all of the nutrients. Important micronutrients, such as digestive enzymes and certain phytonutrients, which are typically difficult to absorb, become accessible.

3. It strengthens your immune system.

Juicing provides a powerful boost to your immune system. Fresh green juice gives your body a mega dose of nutrients, meaning your immune system is instantly strengthened. Through juicing, you will have more energy, fight off colds and flu faster, and you’ll notice that your skin will have a fabulous, healthy glow.

Try this recipe for a delicious, green juice:

Glowing Green Juice
(When possible, opt for organic produce)
· 1 cup spinach
· 1 cup kale
· 1 cucumber
· 3 sticks of celery
· 1 apple
· ½ lemon
· 1 inch piece of ginger
Add spinach and kale to juicer and follow it with cucumber, celery and apple. Add the lemon and ginger. Enjoy this fabulous, revitalizing refreshment!

Note: Drink immediately. If needed, store in a glass container with an air-tight lid for up to 24 hours.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s your favourite juice recipe?

By Marcus Julian Felicetti/MindBodyGreeen

After publishing my article on 11 Miraculous Ways Magnesium Heals Your Mind & Body, many people asked me about the best ways to boost Magnesium levels. The truth is that unless you use a combination of approaches, it will take a long time. Most people’s Magnesium levels are critically deficient. The ideal amount of daily intake of Magnesium for an adult leading an active life is approximately 2,000 milligrams. Most people aren’t getting anywhere near that amount!
If you think these therapeutic doses seem quite high, rest assured. The body can very easily excrete any excess Magnesium that it doesn’t need.
To get your levels up quickly, use at least five of these six simple techniques.

1. Eat Magnesium rich foods. The top ten foods sources highest in Magnesium are:
1. Kelp
2. Almonds
3. Cashews
4. Molasses
5. Buckwheat
6. Brazil nuts
7. Dulse
8. Filberts (cultivated hazelnuts)
9. Millet
10. Pecans
It’s important to soak nuts for 12 hours to activate them, then rinse them, which releases enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid. Otherwise, eating nuts may increase Magnesium levels but decrease Zinc levels, which is also another essential mineral.

2. Take a top quality oral Magnesium supplement two times a day – with either breakfast or lunch, and dinner. The best kinds of Magnesium supplements that I recommend:
· Magnesium Amino Acid Chelate
· Liquid colloidal Magnesium
· Magnesium Chloride
· Magnesium Citrate

DO NOT TAKE Magnesium Oxide, because it forms a caustic Magnesium hydroxide in the body that can burn the intestine walls, and anyway, it is VERY poorly absorbed.

3. Stop doing things that waste Magnesium. Things to avoid if you want to keep your Magnesium levels high:
· Gluten.
· Cooked foods – cooked foods can actually strip minerals from the body. Instead, eat plenty of raw foods (nuts, seeds, vegetables).
· Alcohol
· Non-organic farmed “foods” come from deficient soil that uses herbicides and pesticides that can deplete Magnesium.
· Refined sugar, including corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
· Prolonged stress – Magnesium will leech out quickly if the emotions aren’t brought back into balance. Yoga will help with this.
· Cheap common table salt – replace it with good quality Himalayan crystal salt or Celtic Sea salt.
· Tap water that is laced with poisonous sodium fluoride – get a good water filter
· Refined stuff of any kind – including unfermented soy products.
· Regular and decaffeinated coffee or black tea

4. I recommend Magnesium oil, which is rubbed into the skin. I have found that if you combine Magnesium rich foods with Magnesium supplements and a topical form, it restores magnesium levels faster. I recommend rubbing Magnesium oil on your feet before you go to bed, especially if you have trouble falling asleep or your legs twitch at night.

5. Make sure you get enough of these other nutrients to utilize, absorb and keep Magnesium in your body:
· Vitamin D3
· Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
· Selenium
· Vitamin E
· Vitamin B6

6. There are some extremely good homeopathic Magnesium formulas that work excellently! They work really well because they open up the cell receptor site where the Magnesium needs to enter. If the Magnesium deficiency has been serious for a long time, there is a chance the receptor site has shut down. The homeopathic remedy Mag Phos can wake it up to allow Magnesium to quickly be absorbed into cells again.

The combination of these 6 tools gives you a powerful arsenal to raise your Magnesium levels. For further reading on the subject of Magnesium, I can highly recommend the book The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D.

Clients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (as well as your garden variety joint pain) often come to me for help. Rheumatoid arthritis, caused by an overactive immune system, is especially scary, since the medical protocol can be quite intense (such as chemotherapy and other therapies which suppress the immune system). Because of this common medical treatment, I do not suggest any immune-enhancing herbs (such as Echinacea or Goldenseal). Instead, I’m going to recommend herbs to treat inflammation (the true root cause of all disease, in my humble opinion) as well as herbs which cleanse the blood and strengthen the body in general.

Alterative herbs help cleanse metabolic waste products and toxins from our body, and are a staple of herbal medicine. Alteratives work by supporting the natural cleansing functions of the kidneys, large intestines, increase blood flow and aid lymph drainage. Allowing these wastes and toxins to circulate throughout the body is a cause of inflammation and, when the body is attempting to stem inflammation, it’s not able to do much else in order to support our health. Here are a few herbs to help stem inflammation and aid the body in its detoxing efforts. (Note: these herbs are helpful for anyone with illness—not just arthritis or other inflammatory conditions).

1. Burdock Root (Arctium lappa or Arcticum minus):
One of the greatest things you can do for pain, joint or otherwise, is increase your intake of essential fatty acids. Burdock contains fatty oils which (along with its sterols and tannins) contribute to burdock’s reputation as an anti-inflammatory. You can eat burdock root in stir-fries (very popular in Asian cuisine, by the way), make a decoction (To do so: chop 2 tablespoons of fresh burdock root—if you do not have the fresh root available you may use 2 teaspoons of dried root as an alternative. Add the root to the boiling water and allow to simmer for 10 minutes then turn off the heat. Strain and drink while still warm—3-4 cups a day is ideal), or take the herb in capsule form (follow dosage directions, but remember, these are for a 150lb adult—calculate the appropriate dose using your own weight).

2. Flax ( Linum usitatissimum):
Flaxseed is one of the best vegan sources of Omega-3 (ALA), which is so important to a strong immune system and for fighting inflammation (the vegan bit is important because animal fats often lead to inflammation in arthritis sufferers). Try to include two tablespoons of flaxseeds or flaxseed oil in your daily diet. Note: do not heat or cook seeds or oil. Also, if you suffer from a digestive condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), use the oil rather than the seeds—they could irritate your condition.

3. Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
Turmeric is an extremely effective anti-inflammatory herb, and thus an effective pain reliever. It contains at least two chemicals (curcumin and curcuminoids) which decrease inflammation (and are very much like the oft-prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs). Incidentally, this anti-inflammatory effect is also why turmeric is often recommended for treatment of cancer, cataracts and Alzheimer’s.

While you can totally add this spice to your daily diet, you will need to take turmeric in supplement form in order to experience the full medicinal benefits. When cooking, try adding black pepper or dried ginger to help activate turmeric. The herb can also be applied topically to relieve pain.

4. Nettles (Urtica dioica):
Yup. If you’ve read my other articles, then you know that nettles is a herb with mad skills incredible for pretty much anything. Nettles are insanely good for you, containing protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, along with vitamins A,C, D, and B complex, all in a form that is easy for the body to use.
Stinging nettle is a wicked herb for those with all types of arthritis and gout. Its anti-inflammatory amazing-ness combined with its minerals (boron, calcium, magnesium and silicon) ease pain while helping to build strong bones. While NSAIDs are often a necessary evil for most with arthritis, using nettle may help you to decrease the amount you need to take. (Herbalists’ disclaimer: ALWAYS discuss herbal supplementation and prescription decreases with your physician). Nettle leaf tea (a cup or more daily) relieves and prevents water retention and inflammation and nourishes the kidneys and adrenals.

A side note: many arthritis sufferers have found that striking the inflamed joint with a fresh cutting from a nettle plant helps relieve joint pain (the stinging part of the nettles draws blood to the joint, relieving pain and inflammation). I know this sounds like a nutty treatment, but the brave amongst you can give it a try.

5. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra):
Licorice acts much like your body’s own natural corticosteroids (which reduce inflammation). Licorice decreases free radicals at the site of inflammation and inhibits the enzyme production that’s involved in the inflammatory process. Glycyrrhizin is the component in licorice which blocks and relieves inflammation. It also supports the body’s release of cortisol (which suppresses the immune system, easing the pain and occurrence of arthritis), but it also inhibits some of the side effects of cortisol (such as adrenal fatigue and anxiety). Use in supplement form or as a tea.

Please note: Licorice is not a good remedy for those with blood pressure issues. People who regularly take large amounts of licorice (20 grams/day or more) may experience serious side effects such as headache, high blood pressure, and heart problems. If you already have high blood pressure, heart or kidney disease, or low potassium (hypokalemia), please avoid the herb altogether.

All in all, aside from herbal protocols, the best treatment for arthritis is a diet filled with fresh produce, essential fatty acids, and fibre (and reducing or eliminating foods that cause an inflammatory response such as fried foods, animal fats, dairy, and anything else which might cause an allergy sensitivity). Yoga (especially Yin Yoga) and gentle stretching go a long way toward arthritis prevention and pain relief by opening joints, and encouraging the distribution of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints.

By Amy Jirsa, writer, master herbalist/MindBodyGreen

Self-esteem is a belief system that we create as we grow older. It is interchangeable with confidence, self-worth, self-belief and self-love. Although some people may portray themselves as being confident, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have an abundance of self esteem.

Particular circumstances that happen to us at an early age have an effect on how we feel about ourselves and our perception of who we are. Comments people say to us, the experiences we have, and the learning’s we gain from our environment, all impact on our belief system and personal development. It’s important to remember that we are all unique in our own ways. No one is the same and nor should you want to be the same as someone else! To embrace the miracle of who you are is a wonderful thing.

To make progress in your life, it is important to be aware of how much respect you give to yourself to start with. People often look to others to validate themselves in many aspects causing them to lose their own power and control. How often do you look to your friends or those around you to make you feel good about yourself?

In order to improve your self-esteem, you need to change how you interact with yourself and also other people. If you look into the mirror and say negative things, or tell yourself you are no good at something, you are going against your personal power and becoming a victim to yourself. As a result, you send messages to your unconscious mind to think and behave in a negative way, this then impacts on the way people interact with you. Self esteem means believing in yourself, knowing that you are doing the best you know how, even if a few days later you might see a better way. It means living by your beliefs and values no matter what others say or do.

Of course inner healing of your past is not something that just happens over night, and if there have been situations and experiences that have damaged your self-esteem, I recommend that you use the technique I included in “A Simple Technique to Control Your Thoughts” ( or you can get in touch about having an Insight Session.

Think of the day ahead; picture yourself interacting with people in ways that affirm your worth, respect your feelings and honour who you are deep within. Think of how you will feel at the end of the day when you act in this way. Notice that as you respect yourself, others respect you also. Decide that you are worthy and give yourself permission to be true to who you are, with every word you say, and every interaction you have.

Some positive affirmations you could use on a daily basis:
1. I am competent, smart and able.
2. I believe in myself.
3. I recognize the many good qualities I have.
4. I see the best in other people.
5. I surround myself with people who bring out the best in me.
6. I let go of negative thoughts and feelings about myself.
7. I love who I have become.
8. I am always growing and developing.
9. My opinions resonate with who I am.
10. I am congruent in everything I say and do.

You can choose which affirmations resonate with you in the best way; and of course you may also create your own as well. By repeating these daily, you will transmit perfect nourishment to your inner being, your unconscious mind, your core self.

By Caroline Rushforth/MindBodyGreen

Drop that energy drink! Here’s why you might want to drink coconut water instead:

1. It prevents dehydration.

Coconut water helps maintain the body’s fluid levels and its potassium content helps maintain water pressure within cells and blood. In developing countries where clean water is scarce, coconut water can be life-saving and save people suffering from diarrhoea, dysentery, or cholera.

2. It fuels your brain and muscles.

Due to its electrolyte content, coconut water improves nervous system function and nerve transmission. It also helps prevent muscle spasms and cramps.

3. It fights aging.

Coconut water contains a compound called cytokinin, which protects cells from aging and cancer.
4. It aids digestion.

Improves digestion and metabolism through bioactive enzymes. It can also aid the absorption of food

5. It supports immune function.

Its Lauric acid content is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It boosts the immune system in fighting infection whilst helping to eradicate intestinal worms and candida.

By David Arenson / MindBodyGreen

Forget flu vaccines — go natural! It really pays to take the natural approach to common ailments and then hopefully you won’t have to darken the door of the pharmacy (other than to buy sticking plasters). The other benefit is that you’ll find much of what you need in your kitchen cupboard.

For starters, build a strong immunity with a good diet, high in fresh fruit and vegetables (preferably organic), rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins, especially vitamin C and D. You possibly already know that your year-long ‘health insurance’ is raw food and fresh, preferably green, juices. You can also add a frozen wheatgrass shot, packed full of vitamins and minerals


Herbs can be used to protect against and cure infection. One of the most common is garlic – it’s known as Russian Penicillin for its antibacterial and anti-oxidant properties. Oregano is a very potent essential oil and brilliant for fighting off infections. However it doesn’t taste great so take one tiny drop in some apple juice. Elderberry tincture works well for beating colds and flu

Sweeten up with honey

Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton swears by manuka honey at the first sign of a snuffle. Eat it on toast or mix with a crushed clove of garlic for a double whammy antibacterial hit! As well as the amazing manuka honey, there are many other healing honeys.

Look after your gut

Remember the importance of probiotics — gut health is intrinsically linked with boosting your immunity. Sauerkraut is a brilliant old-style way to naturally get your probiotics, as is kefir (so long as you aren’t dairy-free).

Up your vitamin D

We are thought to be in the midst of an international epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency. Check your vitamin D levels as this greatly affects immunity. You will almost certainly need to supplement during the winter months so my recommendation is an oral spray. (Real Foods have Vit D oral sprays on offer).

Think yourself well

The power of the mind is incredible and it is important to remember the wonderful effects of visualisation. One final note — stay happy! Even conventional medicine recognises that an increased sense of wellbeing enhances immunity. A recent review of the health effects of laughter found it has a significant place in the prevention and treatment of illnesses. It’s official — laughter really is the best medicine.

For more tips and natural kitchen cupboard remedies, see the new updated e-book Imperfectly Natural Home: by Janey Lee Grace
16th October 2012

The important difference between a kettlebell and a dumbbell is that when using a kettlebell, the mass of the weight is outside of the hand. During the dynamic movements — like the swing — this creates a longer lever. This lever allows us to use momentum and increase the load during the movement. This factor makes the kettlebell swing a unique, magic movement that can help to achieve great outcomes.

The swing can be used for the following purposes in training:
· Movement preparation and muscular chain firing
· Development of the posterior chain (which will help to improve lumbar spine stability and therefore improve lower back function) and loading of the superficial back line. As a dynamic movement, the swing loads our posterior chain and gets our lower back musculature working to stabilize the lumbar. If we can improve our hip mobility in flexion and extension, we will take the stress out of the lower back
· Lower back rehabilitation
· Power endurance and strength endurance. Once you have developed the correct technique, then performing the swing for intervals or extended periods of time is a great way to achieve power endurance
· Metabolic training and
· Aerobic and anaerobic threshold training. The swing allows us to work for long periods of time and intervals while keeping a consistent tempo. This has a great affect on the cardiovascular system and great muscular endurance advantages.

When it comes to the correct weight for the swing, it usually works better to have more load so you actually have to swing. If you use a kettlebell that is too light, you’ll often see the movement become more of a slow lift rather than a dynamic swing. Hingeing correctly from the hip and have good timing, then the weight should be a secondary concern.

My grandmother always taught me, if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. Good advice. After all, we’re probably all at least vaguely familiar with the strange and dangerous cosmetic habits of our ancestors: arsenic in face powder, copper or lead to colour the eyes, not to mention lead-based face masks used by the Greeks to ‘improve’ skin condition. Yikes, right?

Not surprisingly, these cosmetics led to madness, infertility, scarring of the skin, illness and, eventually, death. According to journalist Diane Mapes “Some beauty products of yesteryear contained high concentrations of lead, mercury, arsenic, even radiation, thanks to ignorance, indifference and narcissism.”

Well. Thank goodness we don’t suffer from ignorance, indifference, and narcissism anymore.


Okay. To give ourselves some credit, there has been a big push for natural health, natural cosmetics and education about such dangers as parabens and phthalates. But, how safe are our so-called natural products? Almost daily I’m approached by someone who has some sort of issue with infertility cysts, and any number of reproductive and hormonal complaints.

The truth of the matter is, our skin is one big absorptive organ and everything we spray, apply, slather, or walk on makes its way through our hormonal system (especially the thyroid–hypothyroidism is on the rise, as is infertility and other reproductive and hormonal problems). Are these issues connected? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, yes.

We’ve been hearing about BPA (bisphenol-A, or the material in plastic bottles and can linings) and its dangers: depression, irritibility, sleeplessness, weight gain, excess estrogen, and maybe (in animals, anyway) insulin resistance. And what about the anti-bacterial craze? Triclosan, the chemical found in most anti-bacterials, can interfere with testosterone and the thyroid.

So, what the heck can you do? A few things, actually. First: grab every skin-care, cosmetic, and hair care product you have. Dial up the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database and start typing in your products, searching for their level of safety; they rate on a 1-10 scale. I threw out everything that was above a 4 (btw many of my ‘natural’ products were coming up with scores of 6 and 8). And make some tea. You’ll be here a while.

Then, head to the kitchen. You probably have plenty of stuff in there already (or that can be purchased easily and cheaply) to make your own skincare apothecary.

1. Rose Petals

Most of us are probably familiar with how often roses are used in personal care products—as rose water, rose scented lotions and, of course, perfume. Indeed, rose petals are a wonderful tonic for the skin. A cooled infusion (tea) of rose petals can be used as an eye or mouthwash, due to the antiseptic characteristics of the rose. Add in the anti-inflammatory qualities and you’ve got a wonderful toner for skin troubled by rashes, irritation, or acne. Just spritz it on the skin after cleansing. For acne-prone skin, mix a toner of one part rose infusion and one part aloe juice. Use this after cleansing in the morning and evening. Keep it in the fridge for the longest shelf-life.

Rose is also a wonderful tonic for mature and aging skin, due to its vitamin C content and ability to rehydrate and soothe the skin. You can add a few drops of rose essential oil to the moisturizers you already use, or blend an ounce of jojoba oil (which is readily absorbed by the skin, as it so closely mimics the skin’s own sebum, or natural oil; it does not need to be refrigerated and has a long shelf life) with 8 drops of rose essential oil. Smooth this on your face at night, or anytime the skin feels tight and dry.

To cleanse dry skin, try the following: find rosewater or brew some rose petal tea (1tsp of herb per 6oz of water). Combine two tablespoons of rosewater or rose tea with two tablespoons of raw honey and 1/2 cup of almond oil. Massage a small amount into skin. Rinse well and pat dry. This cleanser can be stored in your medicine cabinet, no need for refrigeration. If your skin still feels dry after cleansing, massage in a little more almond oil.

The antiseptic nature of rose also makes it a wonderful treatment for wounds, bruises, rashes, and incisions. To use, take a clean washcloth, dip into the warm or chilled tea (1tbs per cup of water, steeped 10 minutes), depending on the nature of the injury, and place on the wound. For sore muscles, try rubbing the area with a rose-infused oil. Try two parts oil to one part herb. Grind the dry petals and infuse them in the oil. Let this sit at least 2 weeks in a dark spot, strain, and use, warming the oil as you wish.

2. Chamomile

The health of our liver is reflected in the health of our skin. Chamomile is an herb you can use internally to help tone the digestive system, liver, and kidneys. When these organs are working and healthy, wastes will be processed the way they were meant to be—through elimination—and not through the skin.

Chamomile is also a wonderful external addition to your skincare regime, especially if your skin is sensitive, mature, or irritated and chapped by the elements. Apply cool chamomile tea as a toner to the skin. Search out a chamomile hydrosol and spritz this on the skin. For helping the skin heal from sun or windburn, try adding a few drops of chamomile essential oil to an ounce of jojoba oil. Apply sparingly as needed. This herb’s ability to ease inflammation as well as its ability to soothe the senses will calm the body and the mind.

To cleanse the skin (especially good for combination skin), try brewing a strong cup of chamomile tea (two tsp of loose herb or two teabags per 6oz of water, letting it steep 10 minutes). Blend this with one half cup of ground, whole grain oatmeal (rolled Scottish oats is what I use, then grind in a clean coffee grinder) and one tablespoon of raw (not pasteurized) honey (honey is a demulcent, which means it pulls moisture to the skin; it also fights acne and protects against damaging rays from the sun and regenerates skin, protecting against free radicals). Place a small amount of this in your palms and massage into skin. Rinse with warm water. Store the rest in the fridge–without preservatives, this cleanser won’t last long on the shelf. If parts of your skin feel tight after washing, try a little almond or jojoba oil massaged into dry areas.

Finally, you can also apply chamomile externally as a paste to help heal burns, skin ulcers, eczema. To use, grind dried flowers with a (clean!) coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle, add some water and a bit of whole grain oatmeal (also soothing for the skin; you don’t need to grind it for this recipe) until you’ve reached a desirable consistency. Keep the paste moist by covering the area with a warm, damp towel. Allow the affected area to rest for 15 minutes or so, then bathe in cool water until the paste is dissolved. Repeat as often as necessary—until comfort is achieved and the area has healed.

3. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

Calendula is kind of the go-to herb for skin care. It can help dry skin, acne-prone skin, aging skin, as well as help to heal wounds, bruising and other injuries. For an all-around skin care and healing product, soak 1 part dried blossoms to 2 parts olive or almond oil. Store in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally. Strain and add a bit of vitamin E as a preservative (you can just puncture 2 vitamin E capsules and squeeze these into the oil; as an added bonus: for some reason, squeezing these little capsules is highly satisfying…).

This oil can be used on anyone for anything; use it on a baby’s skin to heal nappy rash and dry skin (test a small patch first for sensitivity, of course), use on yourself to heal acne, scars, wounds, rashes, eczema, and dry skin. Have sensitive skin? Calendula is soothing and cooling for any skin type.

For oily, acne-prone skin, try this cleanser: combine 3/4 cup strong calendula tea (follow guidelines for chamomile tea, above), 1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh, if possible), 2tbs baking soda, 1tbs aloe vera gel (check the ingredients–NO alcohol). Blend ingredients together and apply with a clean, wet washcloth, gently massaging into face and neck. Leftover cleanser should be refrigerated. Aloe vera gel can be massaged into the skin if it feels tight or can be placed directly on breakouts to treat them. If you are very acne prone, try drinking a cup or two of calendula and chamomile tea daily to help rid the body of toxins and aid elimination (this will be a slightly bitter tea, though not unpleasant).

Feel free to dive right in and start using these natural skincare recipes. However, just as with any drug (and all the chemicals currently found in your skincare line can be considered drugs, as your skin gets ‘hooked’ on them), there may be a withdrawal period. You may find you are breaking out a bit more. No worries! This is the body ridding itself of toxins. Allow a few weeks for the skin to adjust and it will settle into balance. In the meantime, relish in the idea that you are feeding your skin the food it needs. Go outside. Feel the wind, sun and rain on your chemical-free, toxin-released, beautiful fresh face.

Article by Amy Jirsa – @QuietEarthYoga

By Madison Sonnier

Bad days can be extremely overpowering sometimes. When we’re having a bad day, everything feels wrong and the day seems to get even worse as we sink further into frustration and despair. By the end of the day, all we want to do is pull the covers up over our heads and block it all out.

When I clawed my way out of a depressive phase last year, it was a daily challenge to keep myself from falling back into that phase again. I had to go through a process of re-building my self-esteem and re-evaluating my life. But there were days when I was not very successful with these things and the negative thoughts that stayed with me for so long would interfere again.

It sort of felt like climbing up and over a steep hill and every time I let a negative or discouraging thought sink in, my foot would slip and I would roll all the way back down to the bottom of the hill and have to start all over again.

On the bad days, I would feel like it would never end and that I would always be unhappy.

To achieve mental balance, I have to make a habit of reminding myself of a few important things that I think we all tend to forget when there is a black cloud looming over our heads.

1. Do not lose sight of what truly matters. Does that clogged sink signify the end of the world? Are you going to remember or even care that the stranger you smiled at in the coffee shop didn’t smile back? When we’re having a bad day, we seem to zoom in on petty things and complain about them. Next time you’re pulling your hair out over something, ask yourself if it really matters.

2. It is okay to be alone or pull back from the world. Sometimes we just need to step back and re-evaluate a situation, a relationship, or just life in general. When I went through my healing period, I spent a lot of time alone as I tried to become my own best friend again. If you need to go into hiding for awhile and work on stitching yourself back up, take the time to do that. It is so important to pull back and spend quality time with yourself every now and then.

3. You are not always in control. You cannot predict when certain things will or should happen, or how everything will turn out. Sometimes you just have to stop pushing and let go.

4. What other people think is irrelevant. I was a miserable slave to the opinions of others. It got to a point where I was trying so hard to please everyone but myself. Don’t let your immediate reaction to criticism be to change whatever it is you’re being criticized for. Do whatever feels right to you, regardless of what other people have to say about it.

5. Don’t give up. If you’re fighting for something that means a lot to you, do not stop fighting whenever you happen to fall short. Remember why you are fighting for it.

6. You don’t have to know all the answers. No one ever has life all figured out. We are always learning and growing. Life itself is a mystery and it’s okay to feel clueless sometimes.

7. You are enough. All of us have had times in our lives where we have thought, “I’m not smart enough or pretty enough or strong enough or exciting enough to do _____.” Give yourself a chance instead of forming limiting beliefs.

8. Stay present. Try not to dwell on the past or worry about the future. Take everything one day at a time.

9. Your feelings will not kill you. I know that heartbreak, grief, depression, or resentment might make you feel like you’re dead and breathing, but you have the strength to get through whatever life throws at you. Hold on and see yourself through it.

10. You are human. This is probably the biggest reminder of them all. You will make mistakes. You will hurt other people and other people will hurt you. You won’t always feel happy and positive. Next time you feel the urge to beat yourself up over any of these things, remind yourself that you are an imperfect human being instead.

By Hope Zvara

While doing yoga or other activities, we often hear teachers and even doctors tell us, “now use your pelvic floor.” or, my favourite line I’ve heard from a yoga teacher is, “activate your pelvic floor”, like it’s an assumed, all-knowing action as simple as turning on your blender and mixing a cake!

Yoga teacher (and prenatal/postnatal teacher) Hope Zvara says “this is an area we as teachers and students to commonly feel a bit weird talking about, avoid talking about, or only explain it half way. This is likely because we are uncomfortable saying certain words in class or to friends like, “anal sphincter” or “vaginal passageway”, or possibly because we just don’t know how to refer to certain areas”.

Regardless, this is an area of the body we need to talk about – a lot! For starters, our root chakra is located in the pelvic area, and is our area of grounding and rooting. Just above is our sacral or sex chakra dealing with our reproductive organs and sexuality. Both are areas of deep connection with us and this earth.

Both women and men need to work on the pelvic floor (and pelvic bowl) regularly, and this sacred area needs to be better understood not only in yoga classes, but even in activities like Zumba, aerobics, running, and activities with (pelvic floor) impact (such as sneezing). And I don’t know about you, but I’d like to not pee my pants at any sudden moment, be able to keep my organs in place, support and protect my back, and offer some energetic support to my body.

Here are some key facts you need to know about the pelvic floor:

1. Understand that there are three openings (or orifices) for women and two orifices for men. For women, this includes the anal sphincter (or anal canal), vaginal passageway (birth canal). These two openings are connected by the central tendon of the perineum this is what is often cut during an episiotomy. And finally, the urethra. For men, the two openings include the anal sphincter and the urethra.

2. There are four cornerstones that make up the pelvic floor and end up making four small triangles: pubic bone to sit bone (tuberosity) to tail bone (coccyx) to sit bone to pubic bone again. (Draw out these four points on paper and then connect the dots to help you visualize this sectioning.)
3. Know that the pelvic floor has a main superficial layer of large thick fibrous muscles called the perineum (many simply call the pelvic floor). In addition to the perineum is the deep layer called the pelvic diaphragm, here, a layer of large thick muscles, sitting above the superficial layer, perineum. These areas are important to find and understand how to use as they are the base for your inner organs and a key muscle in many other body functions, as well as the main grouping of muscles for women to have a successful delivery and postpartum recovery. Think of the perineum as the hammock and above the hammock is the pelvic diaphragm, which is opposite of the diaphragm, making it the pelvic diaphragm.

The Pelvic Floor has three purposes:
1. To support the inner organs,
2. To serve as the passageway for the urethra and sex organs, rectum and birth passage.
3. To coordinate almost all triggering of all movements and body balance
We talk a lot about this assumed area with not much understanding. Someone with a weak (or slack) pelvic floor (which we often assume is the case) may be having symptoms such as incontinence (this includes men), involuntary urination (woops), and issues in the overall function of the physical body and movement. Often this energetically correlates to a lack of “chi” which equals a weakened control on bodily functions. It’s embarrassing, but the truth is involuntary urination happens to many women and men.

What about someone with a tight pelvic floor? They too can have issues, including constipation and major rigidity of the spine and legs. Foot, knee and back problem can also occur, and can be significantly helped through proper pelvic floor training with an experienced teacher or possibly cranial sacral therapy as well.

With all this being said, here are a few guided self-imagery practices to bring more awareness to your pelvic area. Note that this is just the beginning to this very sacred and important area, and there is more to it, as you will notice working this into your practice and everyday life.

1. In a comfortable space, bring yourself into a High Squat (about feet 3” apart), place one hand over your anal sphincter. Close your eyes and take a few breaths, notice the breath move into that area, the inhale should allow a gentle pressure into your hand and the exhale a gentle pulling away. Do not get frustrated if you cannot feel this, trauma, energetic or emotional blockage or a lack of body awareness may make this difficult. It is then a good idea to work on this regularly until you become more comfortable and notice this gentle action. If you are struggling to feel any sensation try blowing up a balloon while using this method, don’t worry about which direction the pressure goes when, you do not need to always have to have a proper exhale or inhale with a particular feeling, just gain sensation.

2. Now in the same position (High Squat) place a hand over your pubis bone, hand angling to the urethra and half way point between that and the anus; continue the same action. Do not get frustrated if you don’t notice anything, the development of the sensation is half the action.
3. Continuing in the High Squat or an upright sitting position keep the awareness of the pelvic floor, focus solely on the point behind the pubis bone, the urethra, this is the action of stopping the flow of urine. This feels very frontal on the pelvis, and fairly subtle. Work on contracting this area for a ten second hold and work up to a minute, inhale and exhaling regularly.
4. Relax the previous and shift your focus to the space between the pubis and coccyx, for women this is the vaginal canal. Inhale completely and then exhale and work to contract just this area upward and inward. I often get very frank with students and for women, suggest the action of holding up a tampon. And for men, it’s the same action of flexing an erection. Instead of pulsing this area, consider a longer hold, try ten seconds to start then work your way up to 30 seconds and then to a minute, just this area.

5. Finally, focus on the rectal area. This for, many confuse it with a buttocks squeeze, as the pelvic floor activation is often misinterpreted as a buttocks squeeze and it is not. Inhale and feel breath go into this area and exhale without a buttocks squeeze, activate the anal sphincter wall (which is actually 2-3 cm long). Repeat this trying to hold for ten seconds, then 30 seconds, and working up to one minute.

6. In any position, with a good awareness of these three points together, exhale and activate all three points without clenching the jaw or the buttocks. Try to hold all three areas, working up to a minute long hold.

7. Now see if you can individually turn these three areas on and off from front to back and back to front, working on control and deep body awareness.

I want to encourage you to consider regularly working on this area of the body. Not only will it increase how your body functions and feels, but it will also improve your energetic components in this area of the body.

7 Benefits of Quinoa: The Supergrain of the Future

Quinoa dates back three to four thousand years ago when the Incas first realized that the quinoa seed was fit for human consumption. According to WHFoods quinoa “was the gold of the Incas” because the Incas believed it increased the stamina of their warriors. The Quinoa Corporation calls quinoa the “Supergrain of the Future. ”
Who would not want to reap the benefits of this amazing superfood?

Here are seven health benefits of quinoa:
1. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids.

2. Quinoa contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains. Fiber is most widely known to relieve constipation. It also helps to prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes. Fiber lowers cholesterol and glucose levels, may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and may help you to lose weight as it takes a longer time to chew than does other foods because it makes you feel fuller for longer and is less “energy dense” which means it has fewer calories for the same volume of food.

3. Quinoa contains Iron. Iron helps keep our red blood cells healthy and is the basis of hemoglobin formation. Iron carries oxygen from one cell to another and supplies oxygen to our muscles to aid in their contraction. Iron also increases brain function because the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. There are many benefits of iron some more of which include neurotransmitter synthesis, regulation of body temperature, aids enzyme activity and energy metabolism.

4. Quinoa contains lysine. Lysine is mainly essential for tissue growth and repair.

5. Quinoa is rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax blood vessels and thereby to alleviate migraines. Magnesium also may reduce Type 2 diabetes by promoting healthy blood sugar control. Other health benefits of magnesium include transmission of nerve impulses, body temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production, and the formation of healthy bones and teeth.

6. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (B2). B2 improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells and is known to help create proper energy production in cells.

7. Quinoa has a high content of manganese. Manganese is an antioxidant, which helps to prevent damage of mitochondria during energy production as well as to protect red blood cells and other cells from injury by free radicals.
Article by Julie Wilcox

Susan says – Some people will say they can’t be bothered, while others will say that they want to burn off all the excess food and drink they consumed over the holidays. For me, I always enjoy all the holidays but also enjoy keeping myself fit and I still want to get fitter, stronger, stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle always!

In order to keep me motivated in exercise, I set myself challenges, never big ones, just small ones. Throughout the year, I’ll be doing more exercise, making up new routines, attending more courses and workshops on your behalf. I think if you say “I’ll try and fit in exercise/ Pilates” you don’t get it done and don’t succeed. Whereas, if you get your diary out, plan it, schedule it and fit in some exercise around your other activities, and actually write it in to your diary, get your dates, times organised, it’s more likely to happen!

What challenge will you be setting yourself this year?
How can you measure your goals and keep track of them? If you are anything like me, you plan to do something and then a thousand other things come along at the same time and then you forget about yourself. I want to do more things that I enjoy and less that I don’t! Easier said than done?
In order to keep track of your plans and your goals, my advice would be to make sure your goals are SMART [SMART acronym newly defined for goal setting]
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time based. – Why not transfer this to ALL your aims, goals and objectives to fit your lifestyle as well as your fitness and healthy eating and lifestyle regime?

Example: I’ll start with –
S specific, significant
M means measurable, but I also recommend meaningful, memorable, motivating and even, magical.
A is an achievable goal but A also needs to stand for Action plans, Accountability, and Agreed-upon.
R means relevant, but it also stands for realistic, reasonable, results-oriented, rewarding, responsible, and remarkable.
T means time-based and it also represents timely, tangible and thoughtful.

Keep a log of what your SMART goals are – that way you can check your progress! – have a look at the example.

Specific: Example 1: Lose 7lbs in weight? WHY? For Who?
Example 2: Get fitter, more toned, stronger body.

Measurable: How do you know you have lost weight? Are you going to use your clothes as a predictor of weight loss? Use a tape measure – measure yourself first and then ‘measure’ your success and your achievements. Also ‘measure’ how you feel after a class eg do you have more energy, how do you feel. Measure your results over 2 or 3 months.

Achievable: If your goal is to lose fat/some weight, how are you going to do that? What workouts are you going to do? How often? Think about a healthy, balanced, nutritious eating plan. Which classes will you attend? Which workouts will you do? ie Complementary Fitness Pilates workouts/blocks, Body Conditioning classes, Complementary Fitness Salsa or Cardio Classes. Join in Complementary Fitness Lifestyle Nutrition and Weight Management courses.

Realistic: Set yourself small weekly, monthly, goals. Persevere with a class or block of classes. Don’t just go once or twice even if you think ‘that was hard work’ or ‘2 days later, my abs or legs were sore’. Get into the habit of going to a class regularly – you will improve, you’ll get stronger, become more toned, look and feel amazing.

Timed: What’s the date you need to do this by? All (Complementary) Fitness classes should be part of a daily or weekly routine, not just a short lived fad. You may have goals to lose weight in X weeks for holidays, a wedding, and that’s great but fitness, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is so important – ALL the time. Do you agree?

You are unique: your home life, your employment, your social life, your genetic make-up, your thoughts, your opinions, diet, partners, children, pets… the list just goes on and on.

So isn’t it strange how, when it comes to feeling and looking good about ourselves, suddenly individuality goes out of the window and from ‘Mrs Smith’ 2 doors up to the Hollywood film star in Beverley Hills, we all want the same thing: perfectly toned physiques, perfect healthy lifestyles and the fitness level of an olympic athlete!

So how do you gain access to this fabulous world where you will look and feel fantastic about yourself?

DO YOU……..

Embrace your new lifestyle with open arms, give it 110%, sign-up for fitness classes, the gym, go swimming, visit your local health food shop and buy things that you can’t even pronounce, cut out all chocolate, crisps, biscuits, become teetotal… FANTASTIC, you’ll be looking fabulous in days, your transformation won’t take long at this rate, hmm!

Trouble is, you embraced your new life on the Monday and by the Wednesday at 3.00 pm, you succumbed to a chocolate digestive at work and it took exactly 3 seconds to turn your back on your new healthy lifestyle and go back to the comfort of the old one.  So, once again the allure of a fit and healthy lifestyle evades you and you feel like a failure, feel miserable about yourself and promise you’ll try again next Monday (always a Monday).

Or do you – START OFF with these 3 simple life choice rules –
1. You must enjoy your new activity – if you start an activity that you do not enjoy and feel is a chore, you will not keep it up, try different things until you find what’s right for you, from power walking, swimming, Core & Body Conditioning, Fitness Pilates, Cardio Fitness, Kettlebell and Weights and Resistance Band Classes – there’s a wealth of choice out there. If it’s a fitness class you want to try, encourage a friend to go with you so that you don’t feel too self-conscious at first and can also have fun while your there.

2. Habit form – don’t dive in at the deep end and attend everything that’s going then run out of motivation. Take it easy and just start with 1 or 2 classes per week (that you enjoy!) and form a habit of going every week, make sure your new activity fits into your unique lifestyle and you don’t have too much hassle taking part.

3. Be patient – you’re not going to change your body over-night, following the 2 rules above is JUST THE START, but we all have to start somewhere, once you’re comfortable with them, then you can add on more, eg better food choices and portion control, more or different activities, just add them in gradually and habit form the new rules until, eventually, you’ve gained access to the fantastic fitness and wellbeing world of fun and enjoyment and you’re where you wanted to be: toned, trim and healthy, welcome on board… enjoy your fitness and healthy lifestyle journey.

7 steps to reduce the risk of long-term back problems
Bad posture will make your bum saggy! It’s true, and now I have your attention, we can get down to business. Modern working practice could be encouraging bad posture, leading to musculoskeletal problems (pain, injury or tightness of the muscles and joints), and slack tummies and buttocks. Think of a typical day in the life of someone who works in an office or at home all day; a seated journey to work in car, bus or train, a day seated; shoulders rounded, peering at a computer screen, followed by a journey home, and a night slumped on the sofa. Even if only some of this applies to you, you need to focus on your posture now! Continual bad posture affects your health, appearance and performance.

‘Computer posture’ encourages rounding of the shoulders, shortening of the chest muscles, lengthening of the buttock muscles from sitting (hence the floppy appearance), and shortening of the front hip muscles for the same reason. Hamstrings (back of the thigh) also become tight and in addition, prolonged sitting and slumping weakens our core stability muscles; the muscles of the torso which are responsible for holding us up straight, pulling our tummy in, and more importantly keeping our spine in healthy alignment, avoiding back problems. Each year in the UK, millions of working days are lost to back pain alone, with the problem growing every day.

Here are 7 simple steps which you can take to improve your posture, appearance, and reduce the risk of long-term back problems:

1. Keep good posture when sitting and standing; pull your tummy button in towards your back bone, lift shoulders, roll them back and down, but keep them relaxed. Keep your chin level and your neck in line with the spine. Imagine that you are being drawn up towards the ceiling by a thread attached to the crown of your head. Place a note on your laptop or screen reminding you to work on that posture. Alter chair height, monitor height, and neck/arm rests so that you can maintain this posture.

2. Stay as active as possible; walk or cycle to work and participate in varied exercise throughout the week. Staying strong and mobile helps prevent injuries, and activity encourages a healthy weight. Excess weight will put added strain through bones and joints.

3. Move around every 20 minutes; staying mobile will prevent muscle and joint stiffness. Go for a walk during breaks to mobilize joints and revitalize. Even taking a couple of minutes to stretch at your desk will help.

4. If you carry a lap-top, briefcase or bag, regularly swap from one shoulder to the other to prevent muscle imbalance.

5. Drink more water; staying hydrated maintains the health of the intervertebral discs in the spine which are filled with fluid (these are the ones you ‘slip’- ouch!).

6. Stay flexible; practice stretching. Concentrate on stretching key postural muscles; chest, front of shoulders, back of thighs (hamstrings) and front of the hips (hip-flexors).

7. Try a Yoga or Pilates class, these will include good postural practice along with flexibility, and core stability, to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and pulling the tummy in.

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