Health Watch

We keep an ear to the ground for information that may be beneficial to you in maintaining and improving your health. We want to give you practical knowledge to help you to be as lively and vibrant as you can, prevent problems or solve them. In recent years there has been an explosion of valuable information and research on health and wellness. Watch this space for news to use for yourself, your family and friends.

Health Watch

Safe sun and vitamin D

Do you avoid going out into the sun because you burn easily? Or, do you slather yourself with sunscreen whenever the sun comes out (or even when it doesn’t)?  If so, you may be one of the many people in Ireland who are deficient in Vitamin D. This can happen VERY easily here! If you are not sure why you should care, read on…

Vitamin D is not really a vitamin
Although we call it Vitamin D, it really is the most powerful steroid hormone in your body! It talks to your genes, instructing them to make hundreds of enzymes and proteins crucial to maintaining health.  So, if you don’t get enough it can be serious.
Many people know that vitamin D is essential for healthy bones but lack of Vitamin D has also been connected with higher incidence of:

  •   Alzheimer’s disease
  •   Autism
  •   Certain cancers
  •   Depression
  •   Diabetes
  •   Gum disease
  •   Heart disease
  •   High blood pressure
  •   Inflammatory bowel diseases
  •   Multiple sclerosis
  •   Obesity
  •   Parkinson’s disease
  •   Rheumatoid arthritis
  •   Tuberculosis

Sunlight is essential for the health of your immune system, which may be one reason we tend to get more colds in the winter. It also stimulates the production of MSH, an important hormone in weight loss and energy production, in addition to giving you a suntan.

Are you getting enough?
Vitamin D is so important to our health that checking vitamin D levels should be  routine. We can provide you with a highly reliable home Vitamin D test kit.

But if you burn very easily, how can you get your vitamin D?  Naturally, one way is to take a supplement. Interestingly, people who sunburned easily in the past and then supplemented with Vitamin D to optimum levels have noticed LESS of a tendency to burning.

In Ireland the sun is not in a good position for making Vitamin D between the middle of August and the end of April, so supplementing during this time is prudent if you don’t manage to get in a sunshine holiday.  For dark-skinned people living in Ireland, supplementation is essential at all times of the year.

Practicing “safe sun”
Practicing “safe sun” includes getting ENOUGH without getting burnt. Before humans started living in buildings, wearing clothes and using sunscreens, we got A LOT of sun and A LOT of vitamin D. Now some of us go for days, weeks, or even months without getting any to speak of.

In Ireland, the best time for making vitamin D is in the middle of the day.  A rule of thumb:  If you can see your shadow and it is shorter than you are, then throw off every scrap of clothing you possibly can for 20 minutes or so (the skin on your torso is better at making vitamin D than your face, arms and legs). However, don’t do this in sunshine holiday locations!  Sun-hungry Irish people are prone to getting too much sun exposure too quickly, resulting in sunburn and possibly long term skin damage.

The back of the neck is particularly sensitive to the sun, and overexposure could result in sunstroke.  Be particularly careful to keep it covered, for example, when cycling.

Sun protection products often contain skin- and body-unfriendly ingredients like mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum and parabens, so look for  more natural products.  And don’t underestimate the power of seeking shade, covering up and wearing a hat once you have gotten your quota.

Protective nutrients
Two nutrients that can reduce your chances of getting sunburned are essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and astaxanthin. Is your skin smooth, soft and velvety? No?  Then you need more EFA’s from oily fish, seeds and supplements such as Eskimo Oil and Udo’s Oil. Astaxanthin is a natural sunscreen produced by marine algae as its own protection from sunburn, and it works a treat for people too! Start taking it a couple of weeks before going to the sun and during your holiday as well.

Don’t be mean to your skin
Two other tips for keeping your skin in good condition: First, choose a cream body wash such as those made by Weleda and Dr. Hauschka instead of foaming shower products that can dry out your skin. Second, moisturise your skin to prevent it from drying out with a body moisturiser made from safe ingredients.

Safe sun—not what you might think
Most of us don’t need to be paranoid about getting sun on our bare skin in Ireland.  At the right times, in the right amounts, sunlight is essential to good health. You know your skin better than anybody else, so use your experience and common sense.

On the other hand, getting sunburnt is asking for trouble.  It is not difficult to enjoy the many benefits of sunshine while protecting ourselves from unnecessary hazards.

Support your immune system

EchinaceaDoes the thought of coming down with the flu make you feel vulnerable and anxious?  Do you want to protect yourself and your loved ones?  Good news!  By supporting your immune system as well as taking reasonable precautions, you can reduce your chances of getting flu, colds and other infections.
Do you have the impression that viruses, bacteria and other nasty germs are out there, waiting to jump on anybody at random and that it is just bad luck if you are the victim? An element of luck may be involved but if you take a few simple steps, you may just improve your resistance to infections.

Living sensibly
There is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle, good food and sufficient rest.  When you burn the candle at both ends, you deplete your immune system and become more open to infections of all types.  If you think you don’t have time to look after yourself properly, you could find that you DO have to make time to be sick! Nothing can take the place of healthy food,  regular rest and relaxation.  Supplements and herbal remedies will not necessarily prevent the consequences of unhealthy eating or lifestyle choices!

Nutrition
Every cell in your body, including your immune system in made of what you eat, drink and breathe. If you are short of a nutrient (and most people are), your body cannot function at peak efficiency.  Therefore, one of the most basic things you can do for your immune system, after eating healthy food, is to take a medium strength multivitamin once a day, extra vitamin C twice a day and extra Vitamin D.  The Vitamin D Council (www.vitamindcouncil.org) recommends the following intake of vitamin D per day:

  • 1000 iu for healthy children under 1 year of age
  • 1000 iu per 25 pounds body weight for children over 1
  • At least 5000 iu for healthy adults and adolescents
  • At least 6000 iu for pregnant and lactating women

Should you be fortunate enough to take a sunshine holiday, be sure to get twenty minutes per day of sun without sunscreen  on  as much of your body as possible before covering up or applying sunscreen.

Hygiene
Simply washing your hands regularly with ordinary soap and warm water is one of the most powerful things you can do to prevent the spread of infections. Afterwards you can follow up with aloe vera gel to which you have added some pure essential oils.  Good choices that are gentle on the skin are German Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender, Tea Tree and Ravensara.  You can add a total of ten drops of essential oil to each teaspoon (5 ml) of aloe vera gel.
If someone in your household is ill, extra attention to hygiene is in order, and this is where Grapefruit Seed Extract (Citricidal) comes into its own. For wiping down hard surfaces, add ten drops of Citricidal to 250 ml water or spray cleaner.  You can also add a teaspoon (5 ml) to a load of laundry, particularly towels, sheets, pyjamas and anything from the sick room.

Herbal immune system support
Lots of people now think of Echinacea automatically for supporting the immune system, and indeed it is one of the most tried, tested and researched herbal remedies in the world. The most efficient way of taking Echinacea is as a tincture, but  tablets are also available.
Lots of other herbs can also support your immune system, so you could consider changing herbal remedies regularly, because different herbs benefit your immune system in different ways.  You could also choose herbs that also address other health problems to get double benefit.
For example, if you are managing your blood pressure and/or cholesterol without drugs, Garlic tablets or Olive Leaf Complex may help these problems while also supporting your immune system.
If you have a tendency to fungal problems such as thrush, athlete’s foot, dandruff or nail infections, then Grapefruit Seed Extract is a good choice, starting with a small amount, and gradually increasing the dosage.  Other alternatives would be Wild Oregano Oil or Garlic capsules.
If you also need to boost  your energy, particularly mental energy, then Siberian Ginseng or Astragalus would be good choices (but only provided you are eating properly and getting enough rest!)
Black Elderberry extract has antiviral properties that we have found helpful to people prone to viral infections such as cold sores, warts and shingles.

Help from the Bees
Honey and Propolis have a long history of use for the immune system. Propolis is made by bees from tree resins to seal the hive against diseases, and can have similar benefits for humans. It may be taken on its own or in combination with honey and herbs in an elixir.
Manuka honey from New Zealand has made news in recent times because of its unique antibacterial and other healing properties.  It is graded according to how much Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) it contains, starting at 5. The higher the number, the stronger its effect.  Look for the UMF symbol to make sure that you are buying the real thing with all its therapeutic properties.  The best way to use Manuka honey is to take it on its own, a half to one teaspoon one or more times per day.  Mixing it with food may interfere with its effects.

Aromatherapy
If you don’t fancy taking herbal remedies, (or even if you do) then essential oils have much to offer.  Many essential oils have anti-viral properties, so do choose ones you enjoy.  The “heavy artillery” in antiviral oils includes Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lemongrass, Rosemary and Thyme.  You can use a vaporiser or put drops of oil on a tissue over a radiator or other heat source.  Another handy way to use immune-supporting essential oils on the body is to mix them with aloe vera gel and apply it to the feet, using up to a total of ten drops of essential oil for each teaspoon (5 ml) of aloe vera gel.  Since the skin on the feet is tougher than other parts of the body, they are less prone to irritation, but even so, start with smaller amounts of essential oil and increase gradually. You don’t have to have a full body massage to benefit from aromatherapy.

Probiotics
Antibiotics, sugar and stress, among other things interfere with the health of the gut bacteria, which is an essential part of the immune system, so minding them makes a lot of sense.  You can do this by using a probiotic tablet, capsule or powder, Molkosan or Molkosan Vitality.  These products contain higher amounts of probiotics than widely advertised probiotic drinks and also allow you to avoid the very high levels of sugar they contain.  Should you be unfortunate enough to take an antibiotic, you should always include a probiotic designed specifically for this purpose and follow it with a probiotic specifically for the immune system.

Travelling
The stress of travelling combined with being at close quarters with large numbers of people results in extra pressure on your immune system. In addition to your usual immune system support, regular use of Echinacea, Propolis or Elderberry Throat Spray makes sense as an extra preventative measure.

Last modified January 12, 2013

Twelve minutes to improved fitness

If you find that the usual forms of exercise are too time-consuming or too inconvenient, you are on the right page.  There is a form of exercise that you can do almost anywhere without even changing your clothes. Most people can benefit from it, regardless of age or physical condition.  That would be Synergetics, which combines the benefits of five different types of exercise but with an added bonus:

  • It strengthens your muscles and builds lean body mass like lifting weights, but you don’t need any bulky, expensive or complicated equipment.
  • It stretches, balances and relaxes your body like yoga, but you don’t have to get down on the floor.
  • It improves agility like tai chi, but there are no complicated movements or long sequences to remember.
  • It is gently aerobic, but you don’t have to sweat, change your clothes, or leave home.
  • It is weight-bearing like walking, but it can be done indoors or out, so you don’t have to depend on the weather.
  • Like no other exercise program we know of, Synergetics also tones the muscles in your face for a more youthful appearance.
How do I get started?  DVDs (available at Eats of Eden) explain and demonstrate the movements in detail.  You don’t even need much space. A number of twelve minute sessions are also included to give you plenty of variety.  After a couple of weeks of practice, the movements on these DVDs come naturally. Nancy Flexman, a qualified Synergetics teacher, is also pleased to offer a free workshop-demonstration to interested groups and organisations.
Where did Synergetics come from? Synergetics was developed by Taylor Hay who had exercised enthusiastically (and often unwisely) all his life. By the age of 50 he had acquired numerous injuries from the very activities he thought were keeping him fit. He got to the point that he couldn’t do any of his usual exercises without pain.  As a result Taylor gained weight, looked old and felt tired.  To regain his fitness he developed Synergetics as a personal fitness routine. Taylor got such good personal results that he started teaching classes in his spare time. He learned from his students as well as from doctors, chiropractors and medical references, that Synergetics was unique in the world of exercise. People began telling him of the many benefits they had received by doing Synergetics. People of many ages and  physical conditions found Synergetics easy, effective and beneficial. As a result, he and his wife Joanna decided to spread the word further by writing a book. They subsequently made videos and DVD’s. Always trying to improve Synergetics, Taylor later developed the PocketGym®, a simple, portable hand link that allowed many new possibilities.
Who can benefit from Synergetics? Almost everybody!  For example,
  • If you have not exercised in a long time, you can start with low intensity and and increase it as you gain fitness.
  • Synergetics is perfect for weight management programs.  By doing one twelve minute session before breakfast and another before bedtime, you can boost your body’s metabolism while building lean tissue.  Doing three minutes of Synergetics any time may help you to manage your appetite.
  • Synergetics is ideal for people who travel a lot.  Most hotel rooms provide plenty of space for a Synergetics session.
  • For those who play golf, tennis or other sports, Synergetics is an ideal whole body warm up.
  • For those who are unsteady on their feet, Synergetics movements can be adapted to be done sitting on a stool or chair.
  • Anyone who wants to be fitter, more energetic and more relaxed can benefit from this easy-to-learn, convenient exercise system.
Finally you can see for yourself and get a taste on YouTube http://youtu.be/a9WOBgqwQkw

The importance of being Earthed

A picture of the Earthing BookMany health-conscious people consider that nutrition is THE most basic thing to get right when it comes to health and wellness.  But there is something that may be even MORE basic. So what has taken the top spot away from nutrition?  Electrons.   That’s right, electrons, as in free electrons, which are plentiful in the earth under our feet.  If you have ever felt revitalised after walking barefoot on the beach (or anywhere on the earth, for that matter) you have experienced it first hand: earthing, also known as grounding.

Our earth is like a massive battery, constantly being recharged by the sun, lightning and the heat from its core.  Throughout history, all living things on earth, including humans have drawn upon this energy.  We depend upon it to maintain order in our own electrical body systems—heart, brain, immune system and muscles are prime examples.  Even the movements of nutrients and water into and out of our cells depend on electricity. So, if you aren’t earthed you may not be getting the best from your food!

Humans used to walk, sit and sleep on the ground, being continuously recharged, so to speak.  Now we wear shoes, sleep on raised beds and walk on surfaces that insulate us from the earth.  We have lost our electrical “roots.”  The result?  We may be more vulnerable to problems, particularly inflammation and accelerated ageing.

Being barefoot on the earth, swimming in natural bodies of water and even touching trees with our bare skin are all free and pleasant ways to revitalise yourself by reconnecting with the earth’s electricity. We recommend doing all of these things as often as you can. But if you are like most of us, the most time you would be able to spend in skin-to-earth contact, weather permitting, might be an hour or so per day, maybe more on weekends. Compared to our ancestors, that isn’t much.

In addition, many of our modern conveniences such as all electrical appliances, mobile phones, etc., create  types of electromagnetic radiation which can unbalance our body’s electrical systems further. If you decided to test this by going around your house with a voltmeter, you could find, like many others, that the most electrically active place in your house is your bed Why? The wires in the walls adjacent to your bed, the bedside lamps and electrical appliances such as clock radios and cordless phones all contribute. No wonder so many people feel tired, even after a full night’s sleep.

Earthing yourself while you sleep is a very efficient and effortless way to neutralise the effects of electromagnetic radiation while giving you plenty of beneficial  earth electrons. You don’t have to give up your comfortable bed, either.  You can use a simple Personal Grounding Kit or Grounding Sheet to recharge yourself during sleep and relaxation.  Numerous people have already reported benefits such as reduced pain and inflammation (any condition ending in “itis”), improved sleep, faster recovery from exercise and reducing symptoms of heart and nervous system problems.

Earthing connects you to our planet’s ever-present balancing and healing energy.  It is a remarkably simple, safe and natural means to improve wellness and to reduce pain and stress.

To learn more and to read the fascinating story of earthing, ask at Eats of Eden about the book, Earthing:  the most important health discovery ever? A variety of earthing products are also available.

References:
Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? Clinton Ober and Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., Martin Zucker 2010