The water element and winter

Veronica Tift enlightens us on how the water element plays a role in the winter season and how to achieve balance with this element.


Let me take you on a little journey, you’re sitting nestled by a warm, glowing fire, crackling away. The blankets wrapped around you are comforting and make you feel held. You have in your hand a warm soothing drink and your beloved pet is comfortably nuzzled in a little ball near your feet. Why does this sound so completely ideal, as the cold weather starts to settle around us?

Because deep down we know that winter is the time for this kind of rest and restoration. Winters are like that, a more inward and sensitive time; its natures resting season, quieten down, deep in the earth and the roots preparing for spring. This is also a great time for you to go deeper within yourself, resting, reflecting and looking for replenishment.

The water element and winter

Are you feeling a little more emotional these days, craving salty foods or maybe everything tastes a little too salty, possibly feeling more fearful, especially in the evenings you can feel the anxiety creeping in?

According to the Chinese Five Elements, winter is related to the water element. Winter is the season in which the water element is most dominant. The kidneys, adrenal glands and bladder are the organs associated with the water element and the winter season.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, people with deficient water energy may struggle to slow down, rest or relax. A balanced water element allows fluidity and flow, there is the ability to nourish and rest, not only for themselves but others. Both water and emotions are unpredictable, when flowing, all is well, but when blocked or stagnant, great pressure can develop, or disease can set in.

Water is amazing; of all the qualities that are needed for life on earth, water is in all living things, whether they live at the bottom of the ocean or the dry desert. Water has made life possible on earth. It is adaptable, taking shapes of its container, changing form with cold and heat.

Having a water element out of balance doesn’t mean drinking large quantities of water. While you need to look at the quality of your water, the intention in which you drink it and being mindful of how much you drink or don’t drink, there is more to this season and the water element.

The kidneys

In TCM, the kidneys house our jing or in the Western world this would equate to your DNA and longevity. The building blocks for physical vitality are responsible for our aging. Jing is also responsible for fertility and reproduction, growth and development. So, when you move against the flow of life, you are exhausting out your own precious life force.

Use your Jing wisely. Step into flow rather than against it, this does not mean being complacent, but rather spending time and energy on things that align with your true desire and authentic expression. Warm yourself emotionally with family and friends, doing things that bring you joy.

Overworking, stressful or traumatic events, overexertion, emotional stress, spending energy on things that drain you, poor diet and lack of sleep will all make it harder to handle the cold and feel balanced during the winter season.

The emotion fear relates to the water element. The kidneys and urinary bladder organs can reflect as we see when anxiety and chronic stress correlate in scientific literature to frequent urination or painful urination as well as pelvic pain. In Chinese Medicine, the stress is specific to the emotion of fear and urgency to release pressure.

The kidneys can be thought of as your batteries, they can give you horsepower that is needed to move towards your ambitions, but only when they are in alignment. The changing of each season can bring stress to the body and illness itself can give you the opportunity to re-evaluate your life.

Questions to ask yourself  

  • Am I over-reacting in situations and do these situations really require this much stress from me?
  • Do these actions align with my natural gifts, talents and interests? Does it feel like my authentic truth?
  • Is this the right time for me to act? Is this the season of my life for this intention to flourish?
  • Am I forcing anything, pushing past signs that this is not right and acting outside my authentic self.

Ways to balance the water element

These include resting, walking in nature, moving your body, journaling, meditation, prayer, eating whole foods that are in season, reducing alcohol and drug use, and prioritising sleep.

Be with feelings of grounding, breathe and feel your body. Bring love to your fear, have compassion for how hard it has been and send yourself some kindness. Listen to your authentic self and wisdom of your body, feel what feels right for you.

Winter diet

As you move into winter, it’s a good idea to shift your diet to create more heat internally. Fruits should be eaten less. Vegetables should be steamed or baked. Eat hearty vegetable soups with root vegetables like carrots, turnups and onions. Not forgetting warming spices like ginger root and garlic while cayenne pepper adds heat to your meals and warmth to your toes.

Cooked whole grains can also be an excellent staple in winter and roasted nuts can be a good snack. The most important thing is to listen to what your body is really telling you to consume. Brewing an herbal tea with ginseng roots or ginger are also traditional energisers.

Exercise in winter

Winter is the season of storage and preparation, take care of your activity level during the winter month and don’t run your batteries down. Move every day with stretching and dance, deep breathing and keeping that circulation moving. It’s a good time for indoor exercise like yoga, even a short practice can be beneficial.

The KD-1 point

The Yong Quan or KD-1 is the first point along the kidney meridian. It’s found between the second and third metatarsal bones on the sole of the foot. This point connects you directly with the vitality of the earth/yin energy and can aid in grounding and elevating energy, depending on what the body needs. It can bring up a deep well of energy or calm energy down, just like a fresh water spring emerges from the darkness of earth.

The KD-1 point gives access to the energy that is balanced and harmonious, and can be useful for fertility, easing anxiety and panic, restlessness, memory and insomnia. This is just one reflex point on the feet and regular treatments are key during the winter months.

Massaging this point, especially before bed, making contact with the earth when walking barefoot if possible and gripping your toes slightly in the earth while imagining energy flowing up into your body and reflexology are all great ways to keep your water element in balance.


References

www.noscoyoga.com/instagram

Inge Dougans Reflexology the 5 elements and their 12 meridian’s a unique approach; Thorsons

Haas. Dr Elson M. 1981, Staying healthy with the seasons

Axe, Dr Josh. 2021, Ancient Remedies for modern Life

Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.

MEET THE EXPERT


Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.


Header image by FreePik

Love your menstrual cycle

Veronica Tift advocates for women to love their menstrual cycle and explains how reflexology can ease the moody blues.


The menstrual cycle temper tantrum of 2022 will go down in our house as the big one. It was a day, like any other, except this day my kids used my yoga matt in their fort and while they had cleaned up, they had neglected to put my mat away. My Rottweiler had the audacity to casually walk on the matt, her nail nicking a little hole into my beautiful matt.

Well, this set me off and it spiralled, it was no longer about the tiny tear in my matt, it was about the kids not packing away, my husband for not fixing that thing, the expired tin of baked beans. Nothing was off limits.

My husband stood by and watch this scene unfold; 18 years together has given him extra special PMS sensors and he slowly picked up his keys and headed out the door.

Later that day when I got home, a new yoga matt was waiting in our room, I immediately burst into tears. The next day I started my period and my melt down suddenly made sense, PMS had struck again.

What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

PMS is a somatic (bodily or physical) and psychological (mental and emotional) collection of symptoms (hence my emotional meltdown) that occurs late in the post-ovulatory phase. This is usually a week or two before the start of menstruation, the luteal phase.

Signs and symptoms can include oedema, breast swelling or tenderness, abdominal distension, backache, joint pain, constipation, aggression, skin breakouts, food binges, fatigue, anxiety and irritability, mood swings, food cravings, headaches, sex drive changes and even clumsiness.

According to Christiane Northrup’s book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, the high consumption of certain dairy products, excessive caffeine consumption, rapidly elevated insulin levels, changing hormone levels, hormonal imbalance and the associated cellular inflammation, excessive body weight, a deficiency in the diet, lack of exercise, emotional stressors and unresolved trauma are all contributing factors that she has seen in her practice.

The reason there isn’t a one-time magic solution for PMS is because the causes are so varied from person to person. We can dive into the science of PMS, looking at the biological changes that happen in the body. However, it doesn’t give us the whole picture. Looking back, the days before my PMS emotional explosion, I can see how I had been neglecting myself and what my body was trying to communicate with me. Plus, I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet.

Creating balance 

Medication that balances hormones can help some women with PMS. There are also solutions for managing the emotional roller coaster that for some women can become extreme. Never ignore these symptoms and find a doctor or healthcare provider you trust and can communicate openly with about how you are feeling.

A nutrient-rich whole food diet can add in the balancing of insulin and glucagon, why is that important? Dr Katharine Dalton’s work on PMS treatment showed that poor-eating habits can cause PMS symptoms and that when blood glucose levels were stabilised, it not only helped with PMS, but also with fertility. This is because when your blood glucose levels zoom up and down chaotically, it can have an effect on your hormones and spark off sugar cravings, creating a vicious circle of bingeing habits and weight gain.

Stress has an effect on your menstrual cycle and PMS symptoms. Deep relaxation like meditation and breathwork have been shown to help reduce PMS within three months of regular practice.

Learning your cycle and loving it

We all have cycles, ebbing and flowing in our bodies and in nature, night and day, breathing in and out, our heartbeats. Being conscious of these cycles can help you better adapt to the changes they bring, seasonal or hormonal.

If you can find a way to welcome and appreciate your menstrual cycle, then the transition into phases like menopause could be much easier. When you start to use encouraging language around your cycle, positivity can be injected into these changes and make this inner guidance system part of your life, you can then start to heal both emotionally and hormonally.

See each phase as a gift

If you break down your menstrual cycle, you can see each phase as a gift. The luteal phase happens in the second part of your menstrual cycle. It begins around day 15 of a 28-day cycle and ends when you get your period. The luteal phase prepares your uterus for pregnancy by thickening your uterine lining.

 This phase is when you can use the opportunity to be in tune with your inner knowing and use this time to witness what is working and isn’t working in your life.

Studies have shown that women even experience more frequent and vivid dreams during this phase. So, you have access to parts of your unconscious during this time of the month and this can then aid in your ability to recognise and transform the more painful and difficult areas.

While you might feel more emotional in this stage of your cycle, I think that what you feel more emotional about is usually something that has more meaning in your life and this increased sensitivity can be a gift of insight. Taking a look at what you might need for full personal development.

According to American author, Louise L. Hay, emotionally you can heal your life. PMS is a result of emotionally allowing confusion to reign and giving power to outside influences or the rejection of the feminine process. Part of her new thought pattern affirmation is I am a powerful, dynamic woman! Yes, you should be saying this all the time to yourself and loving how your body functions, falling in love with its wonderful cycle.

Respect your body

How you feel about your body matters and the level of respect you pay to your menstrual cycle; honour your body’s needs. Things like rest, nutrition and replenishing when feeling PMS taking hold.

In my case, slowing down, taking a deep breath and making a cup of tea would have been a much wiser choice in that moment, possibly a good breakfast.

PMS is not just medical and is related to other areas of a woman’s life. If you are able to learn how to tune into the languages of your body, you can make decisions that are informed, listening to the wisdom of your body.

Reflexology

According to author Frankie Avalon Wolfe, PMS is one of the most studied uses of reflexology and the results have been positive. How does reflexology help for such a host of symptoms?

One way is the promotion of endorphin production that can relieve pain and can help with relaxation. Reflexology can help the hormones, encouraging them back into balance, and the swelling and bloating symptoms can be helped when working on the lymph system reflex. The reflexes that a reflexologist would work to aid in PMS would be the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes working on relaxing the whole pelvic area. Not only the reproduction reflexes are worked and looking at the body as the beautiful connected being it is, the solar plexus reflexes, relaxation techniques and the brain reflex are worked to aid the whole nervous system. The process of addressing the emotional and psychological stresses can directly result in biochemical changes to the body.

A systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of reflexology on premenstrual syndrome was conducted; in the results, 6 to 10 sessions of reflexology could decrease the severity of PMS. Reflexology had a significant impact on the severity of PMS.

Reflexology could also significantly affect somatic and psychological symptoms arising from PMS. The study also concluded that with each session the efficiency of the reflexology also increased.

No more temper tantrums

I can report that there has not been another PMS tantrum as fierce as the one of 2022. However, I can honestly say that I haven’t been free from all symptoms and this was clear when my husband hysterically laughed at my mentioning that I thought my PMS wasn’t that bad this month. It’s all about balance and some months are better than others in the busyness of life.

However, paying attention to these moments always brings me back to the importance of taking the time to ask; what are my emotional needs right now and do some inner work. I encourage you to do the same, you might be very surprised at the answer.


References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31673284/

Ruth Hull the complete guide to reflexology second edition Lotus publishing.

The complete idiots guide to Reflexology – Frankie Avalon Wolfe, Ph.D., Alpha books

Woman’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating physical and emotional health and healing – Christine Northrup M.D 5th edition Hay House

Natural solutions to Infertility, how to increase your chances of conceiving and preventing miscarriages – Marilyn Glenville PhD published in the UK in 2000 by Judy Piakus (Publishers) limited

You can heal your life – Louise L. Hay – Hay House Inc

Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.

MEET THE EXPERT


Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.


Header image by Adobe Stock

Eating for steady glucose

Dietitian, Felicity Black, offers guidance on how to get off the glucose rollercoaster by clothing your carbs for steady glucose.


Do you sometimes feel as if you are riding the rollercoaster of blood glucose spikes and crashes and not getting steading glucose readings? Unfortunately, this leaves you moody, exhausted and reaching for that next cup of coffee to get you through the day. Maybe you are struggling with cravings for sweet things or are finding you are constantly hungry. You have been riding the glucose rollercoaster.

How does the food you eat affect the ride?

Some foods lead to a steep ascent; they speed up the release of glucose into your bloodstream. Other foods put on the brakes; slowing down and stabilising the blood glucose levels. 

What goes up, must come down

Foods that cause glucose to climb then cause it to plummet leading to low moods, fatigue and cravings. Refined starches and sugar are the driving force behind these steep spikes. Think of a fluffy piece of white bread, minimal chewing and digestion is required while glucose is rapidly flowing into the bloodstream.

Breads, pasta, crackers, pastries, crisps, pizza bases, rolls, biscuits, rusks and cereals. How to tell if starches are refined? Well if it is made from mostly flour, has gone through many processes, has many ingredients listed, has no naturally occurring fibre or nutrients and won’t be found in nature; then yes it is most likely refined.

Synthetic vitamins and some bran fibre is often added in during manufacturing to make these products look more desirable by health-conscious shoppers.

Sugar speeds things up, especially in a liquid form. Smoothies, fruit juices, fizzy drinks, chocolate milk, flavoured drinking yoghurt, hot chocolate-type drinks can all cause glucose levels to rise quickly.

Which foods slow things down?

Protein, fat and fibre-rich foods all slow down your digestion which slows down the release of glucose into your bloodstream.

Protein-rich foods are mostly from animal sources. Think meat, chicken, fish, seafood and eggs.

Cheese and other dairy products don’t actually have all that much protein and are not a suitable substitute for the above foods. Whole unsweetened dairy has been shown to provide glucose stabilising effects even in small amounts.

Fats are wonderful at keeping glucose steady and help you stay fuller for longer.

Healthy fats to include are avocados, olive oil, olives, nuts and seeds.

Berries, green vegetables (such as broccoli) and legumes (beans and lentils) are great fibre-rich foods to include daily.

If you make sure to include either or all of these foods in your meals then you are sure to avoid post-meal glucose spikes.

Fibre – where should we get it from?

Many people assume high fibre means high starch. Fibre should be mainly be sourced from vegetables, not from breads and cereals. Fruit can also provide fibre but we need to manage how and when we eat it. If fruit was to be your main dietary fibre source then you would end up consuming far too much natural sugar.

As humans we are not made to eat starch without fibre. In nature we would find tubers, roots, nuts, fruits, whole grains – all of which have fibre alongside starch.

This fibre acts to slow down the release of sugars into your bloodstream, giving you a steady supply resulting in stable blood glucose levels.

In our modern world, we have breads, cereals, pastries, crisps, pasta – all without adequate fibre and consumed in large quantities.

There is a common misconception that brown refined starches are far superior than their white counterparts. Believe me, six slices of brown bread a day will not do you any favours. Clients need to be educated on lowering total refined starches regardless of the colour of said starch.

Most low-GI breads, cereals and pasta do not contain enough fibre to slow down the resultant spike. Therefore, reduce your overall carbohydrate and cut back on refined starches, they are not nutritious regardless of the colour.

Breakfast – setting a good foundation

Starting the day off right is very important for steady blood glucose levels. We are most sensitive to high sugar intake in the mornings than any other time of day. Therefore, if your blood glucose is not stabilised early on in the day, then you will struggle to manage it as the day goes on. Think of it as setting a solid foundation for the day.

A breakfast made up of only starch especially simple refined starches, such as bread and cereal, is sure to set you up for a rollercoaster of hunger, fatigue and cravings.

A good concept is the idea of clothing your carbs and this is also mentioned in the book The Glucose Revolution by Jessie Inchauspé. When you eat carbohydrates by themselves (without protein, fat or fibre) then your blood glucose spikes rather high and quite quickly.

Dessert vs sugary snack

If you are going to eat something with sugar, then have it as dessert after your meal and not between meals. Sugar that lands in a full stomach will lead to less severe glucose spikes. Rethink that afternoon coffee and cake. Bring out some fresh fruit to end off your meal.

Clothing for your carbs for steady glucose

Carbohydrate should be combined with either protein or fat or both. That includes fruit, do not eat fruit alone as a snack. The French have it right – cheese with fruit. The fat and protein in cheese (it’s mostly fat) helps reduce the spike from the fruit.

Other combinations are: biltong, nuts, full fat yoghurt, avocado, sugar-free nut butters and seeds. So, do yourself a favour and clothe your carbs.

Felicity Black is a registered dietitian at the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology and is based at the Port Elizabeth practice in Mill Park. Having completed the in-depth CDE Foundation Course in Diabetes Care, she has been able to treat her clients holistically and with a greater understanding of their individual needs.

MEET THE EXPERT


Felicity Black is a registered dietitian at the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology and is based at the Port Elizabeth practice in Mill Park. Having completed the in-depth CDE Foundation Course in Diabetes Care, she has been able to treat her clients holistically and with a greater understanding of their individual needs.


Header image supplied

Your 24-hour plan to get more energy

Monique Marias shares a constructive 24-hour plan to get more energy every day.


The modern era requires you to move at the speed of light, to get things done and meet your targets. This is exciting but can also be exhausting. To do your best, you need to be the best versions of yourself to prevent burnout, fatigue and despair.

Your energy levels need to be sustained throughout the day. Energy drinks might give you an immediate lift, but it will soon wear off, leaving you feeling sluggish and drained. How do you then maintain your energy levels? By implementing a 24-hour plan that will boost your energy levels and keep you motivated throughout the day.

Increase your energy levels on a daily basis

  1. Sleep well

Good quality sleep is critical for good health and overall quality of life. It’s important to get enough sleep as well as quality sleep. By getting enough sleep and prioritising good sleep habits, you can support your immune system and reduce your risk of infections and illnesses, such as cardiovascular problems and diabetes.

Monitor your sleeping habits; get to bed at roughly the same time each night, as well as waking up around the same time each morning. You need to train your body and mind to slow down; do specific things before getting to bed that will let your mind and body know its time to settle in. This can include listening to relaxing music, turning the lights off, reading, or drinking a warm drink to help you relax.

  1. Stay hydrated

One of the symptoms of dehydration is fatigue. Make a point of staying hydrated during the day (this excludes the cups of coffee you’re drinking). The amount of water you need varies based on factors like your body weight, activity level, and climate. However, a general guideline is to aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day, and more if you are physically active or in a hot climate.

Find a rhythm that works for you, whether that is having one large bottle that you need to finish by the end of the day or having multiple glasses of water throughout the day. You can also add different fruits to change the flavour, if this helps you drink more water. Healthy options include lemon, ginger, cucumber, mint and different forms of berries.

By staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water and other fluids, you can support your immune system and reduce your risk of infections and illnesses.

  1. Eat balanced meals

Eating a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. A balanced diet provides the body with the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it needs to function properly which improves your immune system and aids in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.

This means including foods from multiple food groups: whole grains, lean protein, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Choose foods with a low glycaemic index (where sugar content is broken down by your body at a slow rate), such as whole grains, nuts, bananas, grapes, apples, peaches, beans, peas, and leafy greens.

  1. Get moving

Regular exercise can help to reduce stress levels and support immune function. In addition to these immune-boosting benefits, regular exercise has many other health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes, and improving mental health and mood.

Not everyone has time in their schedule for daily exercise sessions, but it’s important to keep moving. This is especially important if you have a job that is mostly desk-bound. Make a conscious effort to stand up regularly, walk around and do stretches. If you have access to a smart watch or an app on your phone to track your steps, set your daily target for 8000 steps per day. Having a visible reminder will help with motivation and keep you focused to meet your daily goal.

If you have a water dispenser at work, combine your walking with drinking water, get up every hour and walk to the dispenser and refill your glass. If your daily routine allows for exercise, all the better.

  1. Control your stress

Stress can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections and illnesses. Chronic stress can also have long-term effects on the immune system, increasing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.

The first step is to identify aspects in your daily life that cause you stress and the second step is to find ways to reduce it or control the situation. Break it down to stress at work and stress in your private life, then look at what you can control and what is out of your control; focus on the aspects that are within your control.

Learn to delegate tasks at work and to say no and prioritise tasks that need to be completed urgently and what can wait until the next day. Find ways that reduce your stress, such as exercise, hobbies, meditating or spending quality time with friends and family.

We all experience times that are more stressful than others, but if you know how to identify your triggers, and you have implemented ways to deal with it in your daily routine, it becomes easier to fall back on those techniques that will help you relax.

  1. Do something fun

Do something you enjoy, every day! Know what makes you happy and make a conscious effort to do small things each day that leaves you feeling happy and energized at the end of the day. This can include cooking a hearty meal, exercising, checking in with a friend or family member, buying yourself flowers, learning something new or listening to a podcast. This doesn’t have to be a long activity, 10-15min is enough to give you that mental boost.

  1. Use caffeine sensibly

Many people rely on their morning cup of coffee to get them started, whereas others rely more heavily on their caffeine boost to get them through the day. It’s wise to remember; the more you drink coffee, the more you need to give you the same level of stimulation. Studies have also shown a negative impact on anxiety levels when used in excess. It can also adversely affect your mood and increase insomnia, and these all impact on your ability to maintain healthy lifestyle choices that will increase your energy levels.

Caffeine in itself isn’t harmful and can definitely give you that much needed boost but use it in moderation. Try to not exceed three cups a day, don’t drink coffee late in the afternoon and try to alternate the time of day that you drink coffee so that your body doesn’t become dependent on that “kick” the same time every day.

  1. Light up your life

Daylight queues the brain that it’s time to get up, time to be active and get things done. The more natural light you are exposed to, the easier your brain adjusts to the routine. Where possible, ensure that natural light enters your workspace as much as possible.

Studies have also shown that blue-enriched white light improves alertness, positive mood, work performance, concentration, and irritability. If you have a desk lamp at the office, switch the globe to blue-enriched white light bulbs. If your office space doesn’t allow for you to alter the light-type, go outside at least three times per day for short periods. Not only will you be exposed to some helpful vitamin D, but you will also get moving.

  1. Be mindful

This aspect should form part of all the above steps you take on a daily basis. Mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This can help to reduce stress and promote feelings of calm and relaxation. The more you are aware of your surroundings, your stressors, what brings you joy and what your dreams are, the easier it’s to manage the days that are more stressful and appreciate the good days even more.

Although there are many ways that you can boost energy levels, you need to find a rhythm that works for you; pick sustainable tasks and make it a habit. Some days might be easier to sustain your energy levels, other times might be more challenging, and that is when you need to fall back on healthy habits to sustain you. Once these habits form part of your healthy lifestyle, it will be more sustainable, and you will see better results.


References

An Official American Thoracic Society Statement: The Importance of Healthy Sleep. Recommendations and Future Priorities | American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (atsjournals.org)

NATURALLY BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM: A DETAILED GUIDE – Outdoor Adventure (ribosomellc.com)

https://www.wikihow.com/Get-More-Energy

https://www.health.harvard.edu/energy-and-fatigue/9-tips-to-boost-your-energy-naturally

https://medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321938#2.Do-some-light-exercises

The Relationship of Caffeine Intake with Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Sleep in Korean Adolescents – PMC (nih.gov)

The Effect of Coffee and Caffeine on Mood, Sleep, and Health-Related Quality of Life | Journal of Caffeine Research (liebertpub.com)

Blue-enriched white light in the workplace improves self-reported alertness, performance and sleep quality on JSTOR

Monique Marais is a registered social worker at Care@Midstream sub-acute, specialising in physical rehabilitation for the past 11 years. She has a passion for the medical field and assisting people to understand and manage their diagnoses and the impact on their bio-psychosocial well-being.

MEET THE EXPERT


Monique Marais is a registered social worker at Care@Midstream sub-acute, specialising in physical rehabilitation for the past 11 years. She has a passion for the medical field and assisting people to understand and manage their diagnoses and the impact on their bio-psychosocial well-being.


Header image by FreePik

Body Stress Release

Kathy Heapy educates us on the benefits of Body Stress Release.


What is Body Stress Release?

Body Stress Release (BSR) is a unique, gentle and non-invasive health profession that originated in SA over 30 years ago. According to many client testimonials received over the years, BSR has served to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.

This complementary technique that works in co-operation with other forms of healthcare has a supportive role to play and may provide relief from pain and discomfort for those struggling with health challenges, ranging from mild discomfort and vague symptoms to diagnosed conditions.

BSR is a health practice that limits itself to its own area of expertise, locating and releasing of body stress. It’s not involved in diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions, thus does not duplicate medical services. BSR has thus always enjoyed a co-operative relationship with medicine and enjoy receiving referrals from the medical fraternity who entrust their patients to us in a complementary role.

The benefits

BSR may enhance quality of life and is suitable for all ages, from the very young to the elderly. Facing daily onslaughts of mental, emotional, mechanical and chemical stress may have a negative impact on your body as it was designed to handle some stress, but as stress accumulates over time, the stress overload becomes locked in.

This may contribute to symptoms such as neck and back pain, pins and needles, postural distortion, muscle weakness, headaches/migraines, indigestion/heartburn, restless sleep, fatigue, numbness, stiffness, to name but a few.

Body stress overload is a powerful factor that may undermine health and well-being in a myriad of ways and may underlie and aggravate many health problems.

How does it work?

You lie down fully-clothed. The practitioner performs a series of pressure tests using the feet as a bio-feedback monitor. Using a light but definite pressure in the indicated direction releases the sites of body stress which may assist to improve and stimulate nerve communication.

We often find that after a BSR session, some clients report back that they had the best sleep ever, felt an emotional lightness, became aware of a greater mental clarity, or felt a surge of enthusiasm for life.

Diabetes case studies

In Gail Meggersee, BSR co-founder’s book, Self-healing with Body Stress Release Unlocking Stored Tension, she includes a case study submitted by a BSR Practitioner about two gents, Maarten and Graham titled: Diabetes: Revival in the 60s.

“After one BSR session, Maarten’s indigestion had improved so much he could hardly believe it. After six weeks of BSR the feeling in his feet had returned completely, no more pins and needles or numbness. Graham’s lower back pain improved considerably.

After about two years after their first BSR appointments, they came into the practice room laughing like two little excited boys. They told their story: at their annual check up with their physicians, she tested their urine samples with the ‘sugar sticks’, declared them to be faulty, and took out a new box of sticks. These were evidently not working either, so she took blood samples and sent them off to the pathology lab for testing.

The results

The results of these tests astonished everyone. Maarten and Graham, no longer had Type 2 diabetes. Their doctor was confused, but they were delighted. They said they knew BSR had assisted their bodies to heal themselves of their chronic condition.

Their cases illustrate some basic principles of BSR; tension stored in the lower back may adversely affect the functioning of the legs and feet.  Such tension may remain locked into the body for decades. By releasing the body stress, the body is assisted to heal itself in more ways than one would have imagined, in both cases the capacity of the pancreas to produce adequate insulin had been revived.

The evidence in these cases would not have been quite as conclusive if:

  • Only one of them had had diabetes.
  • They had not lived together and eaten the same diet.
  • They had not both come regularly for BSR maintenance.

“Their faith in BSR was sealed and they continued with the sessions. Ten years later, they appeared at least 10 years younger than when I first met them. They enjoyed regular exercise and had even improved their eating habits to a degree.”

How many sessions are needed?

Initially three sessions are recommended; for example – day 1, day 4 and day 11. This allows the body to go through necessary adaptations as the body adjusts to lines of tension being released.

At your initial session your practitioner will take your full medical history and during the consultation will also share with you on how to sit, sleep and bend correctly thus working with the natural bio-mechanical design of the body.

He/she will then guide you with regards to suggested intervals between sessions going forward, depending on individual case requirements. Maintenance sessions are usually looked forward to by our committed clients who recognise the value of self-care, and we often find a close friendship develops between the emphatic practitioner and client over time. Should a client be too weak to visit their practitioner, they may enquire about house visits in the comfort of their own home.


To find a dedicated BSR practitioner close to you, visit bodystressrelease.com

Kathy Heapy left the travel industry in 2010 as she always had a yearning to work with people in a healing capacity. After only her second BSR session, she decided to apply for the annual practitioner course held at the BSR Academy. She currently runs a successful Body Stress Release practice at a wellness centre in Midrand, Gauteng and looks forward to a continuation of a fulfilling and enriching future, assisting folk with a compassion and a sincere belief that BSR can offer hope in their world.

MEET THE EXPERT


Kathy Heapy left the travel industry in 2010 as she always had a yearning to work with people in a healing capacity. After only her second BSR session, she decided to apply for the annual practitioner course held at the BSR Academy. She currently runs a successful Body Stress Release practice at a wellness centre in Midrand, Gauteng and looks forward to a continuation of a fulfilling and enriching future, assisting folk with a compassion and a sincere belief that BSR can offer hope in their world.


Header image by Adobe Stock

Simple food switches

Annica Rust educates us on how simple food switches can benefit your overall health while you still enjoy your meal.


Nutrition plays an integral role in your well-being and the management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and fatty liver disease. By only making a few simple food switches to your diet, you can significantly decrease the risk for developing these chronic diseases. The added bonus is these simple food switches will also assist in the nutritional management of chronic diseases.

Making simple food switches

The following five points will assist with making healthier choices:

1. Carbohydrates & sugar

 Focus on replacing refined carbohydrates with high-fibre carbohydrates and limit the intake of food items that are high in sugar.

Eat more high-fibre carbohydrates Eat less refined carbohydrates
Brown/whole grain bread or rolls White bread or rolls
Brown roti/bharkhri/paratha White roti
Potatoes with skin, cooked Chips
Oats and whole grain cereal (Weet-Bix, All Bran) Sugar cereal (Corn Flakes, Coco pops)
Fruits Cookies and cake
Brown rice White rice
Whole grain pasta White pasta
Whole grain crackers & Provitas White crackers
Plain popcorn Potato crisps
 Eat food in moderation  Limit food high in sugar
 Sweetener White/brown/yellow sugar
Sugar-free products Sweets and chocolates
Dried fruit without added sugar Dried fruit with added sugar

2. Fats

It’s important to replace unhealthy fats (saturated- and trans fats) with healthy fats, such as monounsaturated- or polyunsaturated fats, to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Use a non-stick pan with a cook and spray or little oil when frying or consider air-frying instead of deep-frying food items.

Monounsaturated Fats

Make part of a healthy diet, but limit:

Trans Fat and Saturated Fats

Try to avoid:

Soft margarine with the heart health logo or margarines with added plant sterols. Hard margarine/butter
Low-fat mayonnaise Regular mayonnaise
Canola, Sunflower and Olive oil Palm, Palm kernel and Coconut oil
Nuts and seeds Cheese
Avocados Ghee and Lard
Olives Cream
Baked products like cakes or biscuits
Chocolates

3. Protein

Choose lean meat cuts and ensure that you further cut off any visible fat from the meat. Additionally, you can also remove the skin from the chicken, before cooking. Also try and avoid crumbed protein options, such as chicken schnitzel and crumbed fish.

Try to consume at least two portions of fish per week and no more than three portions of red meat per week. Focus on having more fatty fish. For example: mackerel, salmon, trout and sardines. Legumes can be eaten regularly, however, the starch portion on the plate should be reduced if legumes are eaten.

Limit the intake of processed meat and cheeses (high in salt and fat), which includes meat that is cured, smoked, salted, fermented, or where preservatives are added (viennas, polony, russians and smoked chicken). Limit meat products high in cholesterol like shrimp and organ meat (liver, brain, sweetbreads).

Low in fat dairy products are a better choice than full-cream products as they are lower in saturated fat. Look for lower fat options in yoghurt, evaporated milk and cheese. Choose soft cheeses (cottage cheese, ricotta, feta cheese) above hard cheese (cheddar and gouda) and processed cheese.

4. Drinks

Be mindful of what you are drinking. Full cream milk is high in saturated fat, while soft drinks are high in sugar. Alcoholic beverages are also high in fat and sugar, and should accordingly be consumed in moderation. The general recommendation is that women should only have one drink per day and men only two drinks per day.  Focus on having more lite beer or wine as an alternative.

A general guideline is that 1 portion of alcohol = 125 ml wine, 330 ml beer, 45 ml spirits.

Drink more: Drink less:
Low-fat or fat-free milk Full cream milk
Sugar-free soft drinks Soft drinks with sugar
100% fruit juice diluted with water 100% fruit Juice

5. Reduce your salt intake

Gradually add less salt when cooking, preparing, and or marinating food. Do not add raw salt when food is dished up; a general guide is to rather taste first, before adding any extra. A good tip is to try and avoid salt being visible on the table when eating and tasting your food.

It’s useful to rinse canned food before consumption, to reduce the salt content.

Use the following healthier alternatives to flavour food Use less of the following
Lemon juice or vinegar Spices (chicken, BBQ or meat) or Aromat
Spice like curry, paprika, peppers or chilli Soup powders and stock cubes
Herbs like parsley, mixed herbs or rosemary Sauces
Garlic and onions Processed food – smoked, cured, canned, fermented and processed
Ginger or cinnamon Liquorice

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that meals don’t always have to be perfect, however, making the healthier swap options as mentioned above and eating a wide variety of food items in a balanced manner is seen as the internationally accepted recommendation for being healthy. For individualised dietary guidelines, it remains important to consult with a dietitian.

Annica Rust is a registered dietitian practicing at the Breast Care Unit in Netcare Milpark Hospital as well as in Bryanston. She assists with medical nutritional therapy for cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship and palliation. She gives individualised nutritional care to prevent or reverse nutrient deficiencies, nutrition-related side effects and malnutrition to maximise quality of life.

MEET THE EXPERT


Annica Rust is a registered dietitian practicing at the Breast Care Unit in Netcare Milpark Hospital as well as in Bryanston. She assists with medical nutritional therapy for cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship and palliation. She gives individualised nutritional care to prevent or reverse nutrient deficiencies, nutrition-related side effects and malnutrition to maximise quality of life.


Header image by Adobe Stock