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If you haven’t heard about David “Avocado” Wolfe, then you may be new to considering your food in a different light. David has been a pioneer in the vegan, superfood and herb movement and is considered to be guy that “knows” what is at the forefront of the next greatest and latest. I went to see him talk on the weekend and it was a great way to get a download from his amazing experience. There were quite a few things that I wanted to share with you, and I thought I would spread it out over a few posts. This week, I thought I would cover the shrooms. In particular, medicinal mushrooms which are found on trees, Reishi Mushrooms.
Reishi mushrooms are known as the immortality mushroom. It has some pretty crazy benefits and is definitely something I am going to add to my daily routine. For the last 8 years I have struggled with hyperpigmentation, otherwise, known as melasma, and have been constantly searching for topical treatments. With no success, I have thought to start addressing the internal cause (I stopped taking the pill along time ago). Reishi mushrooms got me excited for a few reasons. They have some pretty legendary rejuvenating qualities, and the list of benefits include:
These benefits are only just the beginning, but what really piqued my interest was the benefits for skin healing. There have been various studies that have looked at reishi mushrooms ability to cure various external skin issues. There is a harmony of anti-histaminic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-allergenic properties that provide some juju magic to improve immunity, circulation and the healing begins. Not only this, but it apparently works its magic on hormonal imbalance. Melasma is a result of sunlight exposure combining with hormones (perhaps an imbalance in progesterone), so a natural food based product that not only helps heal the skin and balance hormones, I thought I am determined to give it a go. I look forward to posting my feedback over the coming weeks, I can’t wait to share if it really does help!
A few years ago I was at a health and fitness expo, it was in the very early days of me starting Schkinny Maninny and I had a stand to exhibit, give taste samples and help people learn about the benefits. I will never forget that weekend as I was harassed and harassed by personal trainers telling me that doing a juice cleanse would do nothing but slow your metabolism down. It was horrible. And they were at least partially right. So I spent most of the weekend trying to say ,”but…”
Prolonged periods of fasting does put our bodies into “starvation mode”, our bodies start to prioritise the feeding of internal organs and hold onto whatever calories may be consumed to keep us alive rather than keeping us looking svelte. But I guess there was a bit of mystique around what “prolonged” meant.
Fast forward a few years and now we know that prolonged is exactly what it means, like 2 years. So a period of 3-7 days is not “prolonged” and can’t really be deemed to impact the body in the same way. Now we have seen clinical studies that show when you fast your body actually burns FAT stores first to help fuel your body, so concerns about losing significant amounts of muscle whilst short term fasting are simply untrue. When you expose yourself to long term full time calorie restriction, then starvation mode is a real phenomenon and your body will start to do things like burning muscle for fuel. But on the short term it is a great way to help burn up those fat stores, but just make sure when you start eating again, eat lots of fresh whole nutritious foods rather than smashing burgers.
There is an old wive's tale that you shouldn’t drink water with your meal. Like a lot of old wive's tales, there is sometimes some truth behind it. Its not something I have ever believed. I have always drunk lots of water with my food, as well as before and after meals. Staying hydrated is of particular importance before eating so you aren’t overeating, thinking you are responding to hunger cues which are in fact thirsty cues. But could there be any truth to it?
There seems to be competing schools of thought on whether it is actually bad for you or completely harmless. The bad for you school says that excessive liquids during meals can lead to bloating, indigestion and even nutrient malabsorption. This can happen due to the “dilution” of the enzymes and acids in the stomach to help break down the foods.
On the opposite side of the argument there are studies that have been completed in hospitals on patients prepping for surgery to test this theory of “diluted stomach acid and enzymes” and it appears that it isn’t true. Although these types of studies haven’t been conducted on a mass scale, the evidence is still convincing that water during meals may not be as harmful as others believe.
Drinking water before meals has been shown to help increase weight loss in obese people. Two groups of obese people were studied and the group that drank 2 glasses of water before each meal lost more weight than a group told to imagine they were full before each meal (this “imagine” group was even exercising more than the water drinkers).
The best advice is to drink up to 3 litres per day and listen to your body. If you tend to get bloated when drinking water with your meal, then try to only drink water to help you swallow. But otherwise if you are a fish like me and can’t help yourself, then drink away! And if weight loss is your objective then a pretty simple strategy of drinking 2 glasses before each meal looks like a pretty simple and easy way to get started.
Have you ever done a cleanse with a friend or partner and wonder why they don’t have the same horrible headaches when they drink the same amount of coffee as you?
Turns out, its genetic.
Caffeine is a natural alkaloid and also a stimulant, which can cause dependence or addiction. Most coffee drinkers (or tea, or anything else caffeinated) will identify the foggy feeling, dull headache that accompanies the absence of your morning cup. I quit coffee a few years ago. I hated the dependence on it. I really hated knowing that if I missed my daily dose, then I would feel rubbish and feel like I was unable to “function”, so I quit. I miss the habit, but not the actual stimulant. I have drunk it a handful of times since have officially quit, and have regretted it almost every time (once was a long drive and I knew I needed something to really buzz me). It left me feeling very jittery, incredible anxious, and I literally could not sit still. And yet, my partner can drink it right before bed and still sleep very soundly….
So why do some people feel it more than others?
We all carry a gene that metabolises caffeine called the CYP1A2 gene. Individuals who are homozygous for the CYP1A2-1A allele are "rapid" caffeine metabolisers, whereas carriers of the variant CYP1A2-1F are "slow" caffeine metabolisers.
There are lab tests for this gene, but basically, if you can drink caffeine in the evening and still go to bed, you are a rapid metabolizer. On the other hand, some people have a cup of coffee and have the jitters for the rest of the day.
So it seems that those with a slow metabolisers are more inclined to feel the “withdrawal” effects when they stop drinking coffee. Severe headaches, nausea, inability to focus are all the symptoms when the body quits an addiction, but some are more likely to feel the pain than others. If you are planning on either quitting coffee or just doing a cleanse with no coffee for a week, then if you are one of the slow metabolisers, my best advice is to try and cut down the caffeine before your cleanse. Start by dropping from full strength to half shot, then to decaf (this still has a small amount of caffeine in it), then to green tea, then very diluted green tea and then non caffeinated tea (like rooibos, or herbal). Your head will thank you!
I have recently tried to make sure I incorporate a few certain foods EVERY SINGLE day into my diet. I do a lot of juicing anyways, and have recently been keeping a cold from breaking into a full blown flu epidemic in my body! So, I was on a mission to have LOADS of fresh ginger EVERY DAY, whether it was in juice or food. And LEMON each day, at least 3 lemons a day, whether in juice, or hot water. It started me thinking about what foods I also normally strive to have every day. One is definitely cucumber, particularly in juice! I have been visiting a few juice bars lately and notice that cucumber is noticeable absent from the list of vegetables you can chose from. For me, cucumber juice is such a critical thing to get each day, call me vain, but because of the amazing properties it has for the skin. I once tried a bit of a self experiment, having a litre of pure cucumber juice each day for a week, and the change in my skin was very noticeable particularly the texture, the brightness and colour.
So my bit of advice today is to find these foods and make sure you eat them everyday, and don’t worry, this article is not meant to be fancy superfoods you cannot pronounce, it is meant to be everyday foods that you should be eating everyday and how to add them in:
Things are getting chillier, darker and cloudier at the moment, so staying clean and healthy gets a little harder. I get it!
But one of our lovely regular cleansers said to me to the other day, “I just had to put some extra beans in my soup the other night, and then I had a decaf soy latte. I am so sorry, I FAILED!!!” I thought to myself, of gosh, please don’t think like that! Juice cleansing is not a pass or fail test, it isn’t something that people do really well and others do really poorly. Some people will be more symptomatic than others, but this isn’t a grade of performance!
He wanted to give his body a break from his normal lifestyle, and re-boot with a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables. So he had a bit on the side, big deal! He still stuck with it and his body still got the benefits from 3 days of the equivalent of 6kgs of fruit and veggies each day.
Even though this weather starts to get us down a little, and may even make you start to crave certain foods, just stick with it and you will get the most out of it. Would you better off with loads of fresh juices each day and just a little slip up, rather than doing nothing at all? Most people would!
After not having coffee for a long while, I got up at 4am this morning (after working til 9pm at Fashion weekend) with the prospect of working until 9pm again tonight, and then all weekend, and really wanted a full strength coffee.
I got one. A large soy flat white! And it was good. Made my mouth feel all yucky afterward, and I felt unclean… But BOY OH BOY, did I get a massive buzz!! I was super super tired, as you can imagine by Friday morning (after a week of getting up at 4am), I am normally pretty shattered. So this morning I was particularly shattered and a little sad at the prospect of doing another 18 hr day.
As soon as I had a few sips, I couldn’t believe the impact it had. I used to drink coffee every day, only 1 or 2, but still it was an every day habit.
It got me thinking about the habit itself and the addiction. It was a very good feeling, I felt effective, quick, and productive (I am pumping out this blog post at the moment whilst “high”). So I can understand how this “fix” has become such a huge part of our society. It is quite simply an addictive stimulant. But it is also a slippery slide into addiction. Life is busy, its hectic, and there is simply not enough time in the day, so a little pick me up each day (or a few times a day) surely won’t hurt right?
I feel good now, but what about in 5-6 hours when I come down from this high, and feel tired and sluggish and exhausted again, will I just get another hit? And then what about tomorrow morning, will it start like this again? Will I just get another one?
I won’t. But that is because I made an effort to break my habit a little while back. The main reason is that I had an addiction (as do most people, they will just tell you they aren’t addicted, like most addicts do!). If I didn’t have coffee, I felt shabby, tired, headachey, glum, and not 100%, that was because my 100% was not me, it was me PLUS coffee=100%. I hated that I was dependent on something to help me feel better, I felt that was a sad way to live each day. So I quit, and it was hard at first, but I am so much happier that I did. I felt cleaner, lighter, better able to listen to my body to understand when I was tired, when I was sad, and also when I felt 100% without any “highs” to get me there.
I know there are a lot of people out there that are addicted, much more so that I ever was too. I am not entering into an argument about whether coffee is good or bad, because I am not taking sides, but I know that I am happier that I quit.