Ode to Beetroot

Oldest archaeological proofs that we used beetroot in ancient times were found on the Neolithic site of Aartswoud in the Netherlands dating back to 3000BC. The beet evolved from the wild Seabeet, which is perhaps why Beta vulgaris, in the same family as Spinach and Chard, was originally prized for its leaves, and not for its root.

Back in a day, Beets were consumed more for their medicinal properties, mainly as laxative or fever relief. Interestingly enough, beet was once considered an aphrodisiac by the Romans together with figs, strawberries and asparagus. But funny or not, beet can be considered to be natures Viagra. Its high nitrate content increases the blood flow to the genital area; also, beet has high amount of baron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormone.

Nowadays the noble Beetroot is known as imposingly healthy root vegetable. Behind its earthy taste hide myriad of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants such as vit B3, B6, vit C, beta-carotene, magnesium, zinc, iodine, phosphor, calcium and iron.

Beet is perfect ingredient for your detox regime. It has high fiber content so its excellent for eliminating any toxins from your system. Beet is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Pickled, boiled or raw, grated over salads, chopped in soups or juiced, it’s all great but beetroot is exceptionally good oven roasted as it gets slightly nutty and sweet taste because it contains 10 – 12% Sucrose.

And don’t forget the Beet greens. Besides containing important nutrients like protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vit B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese, beet greens also supply significant amounts of vit A, vit C, calcium, and iron. Beet greens actually have even more iron than spinach as well as a higher nutritional value overall than the beetroot itself.

Now that you know all that, does it inspire you to eat more beets?

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Good news! Summer is coming! 

Good news! Summer is coming! And there is no better time than now to turn a new page in your health routine and get your body holiday ready!
One of the fundamentals of Chinese medicine is that the health of the body, the mind and the spirit is reflected on the face. Internal health radiates as external beauty. Skin problems and aging ultimately result from internal imbalances, so the best way to address them is to correct the inner imbalances.Where to start…
Diet of course! But Im sure you already knew that answer…
I had a long conversation with a friend of mine about health and eating properly. The argument went down the usual path of ‘I’m not hungry in the mornings’, ‘shops sell nothing I like’ and the best one – ‘I don’t have time to cook or eat properly…’
I have had similar discussions before and all I say is – if there is no health, there is nothing… Realise the depth of this!
The only source of life sustaining nourishment you get is from food. The worn out statement ‘You are what you eat’ is all true. The quality of food plays such an important role in your mental and physical health. Bright eyed and bushy tailed does not result from food deprivation or copious amounts of coffee and sweets to prop you up and drag you on…
Quality nourishment is required to create good solid Qi (pronounced: chi, meaning – energy, life force) which in turn will support your immune system. When you eat well your level of energy and happiness will be consistently high, your ideas will sprout swiftly, your creativity and imagination will flow. Might sound like a fairy-tale but I know for sure you’ll have a grin on your face every morning, even on Mondays when you are in balance. When that happens, ask what you’re doing right and then repeat that. Sorting out your diet is the place to start!

Few suggestions for the Super-busy.

My first suggestion is of course – prepare something the night before. Sandwich or a boiled egg or…

I sometimes go that extra step and make a buckwheat porridge which can be turned into a lovely salad by adding some fresh chopped parsley and sweet peppers (or whatever you like)with simple oil and vinegar dressing. While the buckwheat boils (which is 10 min) you can chop your veg and voile – healthy, hearty breakfast that doesn’t take long time to make and tastes delicious either cold or hot.

Nowadays every work place has a microwave, and they provide tea and milk at least if not more. This will give you an opportunity to make scrambled eggs or oatmeal porridge. Or have a box of muesli or cereal in your drawer… opportunities are endless
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skipping it does you no favours – not only are you depriving your body of nutrition when you need it most, but you’re also likely to over eat the next time you do eat.
Oh and lunch… I try to leave Sundays just for me, myself and I and so I cook and make some more so I can freeze it and use when I don’t have time or I’m feeling lazy during the week. For example you can make pasta sauces, anything tomato based freezes well (bolognaise, arabiatta). Save it in a portion size boxes and to boil pasta for it only takes maximum 10 min. Any pureed soups will be ideal and few things that I often make in bulk myself are Chilli con Carne, chicken soup, eggplant parmesan bake, lasagne…
It is different in UK and Ireland, but I was brought up with a routine to have the biggest meal between 1 and 2pm, at the height of the day. And then in the evening have something small, with a cup of herbal tea before you unwind from the busy day. Try not to eat at least an hour before you plan to go to bed. Be kind and let your body be done with digestion so you can get the best sleep.
The time to bring changes is NOW. Make that choice to care and love yourself more than you have so far. Don’t ignore the kind and loving warning signs that your body sends through headaches and small aches and pains – attend to them right away. Your body is your temple – you know what you need.

It’s a challenge – will you accept?

Spirit and Emotion in TCM

More often than not, first thing people associate with acupuncture is pain management or digestive issues. What is less known is that acupuncture is also very helpful when it comes to the trouble of the Spirit and imbalance of Emotions.

Chinese medicine has a beautiful, holistic and enchanting way of explaining the body, organ system and the Spirit.

According to the Chinese Medicine there are 5 Spirits that represent an aspect of awareness and consciousness. Each spirit resides in one of the Yin organs. And when there are strong emotions in our life, its related organ can be affected. Strong emotions alter the movement of Qi (energy, life force), and that in its intensity can cause a pathology. So let’s look at this in more detail.

Heart is seen as the Emperor of the body and the residence of the Mind. And so it is responsible for the circulation of blood and overall state of the emotions, as well as the well-being of spirits. Heart spirit, Shen is the most yang, most fiery one of the five.

Great Taoist sage once wrote that Heart is like a reflecting pool. When the pool is calm and still it is ‘the mirror of heaven and earth, the glass of the ten thousand things’. But when the Heart is disturbed by violent emotion, ‘it is like the wind-tossed sea’.

Anything that troubles the heart, upsets the Shen. This can be emotional drama, shock or abuse, or recreational drugs such as cocaine, nicotine or amphetamines.

When a person’s Shen is disturbed the light in the eyes may be dim, as if the person is not really present and making real contact is difficult. The person may be over talkative and have frequent inappropriate laughter or other signs of a split between the content of a person’s conversation and their emotion. They may feel that it’s hard for them to recognize what’s truly right for them; feel lack of inspiration and insight, and find it hard to concentrate.

Other signs of Shen disturbance may be insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, timidity or being easily startled, inability to distinguish true from false or real from unreal, anxiety, restlessness and hyperactivity.

Liver in Chinese Medicine is compared to a Military leader whose main task is strategic planning. Liver Spirit, Hun is therefore in charge of organizing the chaos of random possibility into meaningful patterns, giving direction to our lives.

There are two categories of Hun disturbance: the excess pattern and deficiency pattern. But it is not uncommon to have mixture of both. When Hun is disturbed there are signs of chaos and confusion and our capacity for clear thought and grounded imagining is ‘gone with the wind’. Without the Hun we cannot organize and plan our lives and put things in motion, implement bright ideas or carry through on promises we have made to ourselves and others.

When Hun is disturbed, there might be a feeling that whichever way we turn, we run into a brick wall, which may result in feelings of guilt and that nothing works out right.

People with Hun disturbance can often find themselves to be easily irritable, with repressed anger and blame. They may find themselves to be in a state of righteous indignation, obsession with injustice, unable to take responsibility for their own life. Some other signs may be erratic or repressed emotions, vague anxieties, lack of colour and clear vision in life and starting projects but moving on before they are finished.

According to Chinese Medicine, Spleens main function is to assist the Stomach digestion by transporting and transforming food essence, absorbing the nourishment from food and separating the usable from the unusable part of food. The Spleen is the central organ in the production of Qi.

Simply put, the quality of your Qi and Blood depends on the quality of the foods you eat.

The spirit that resides in the Spleen is called Yi. When Yi is fulfilling its function we fully commit ourselves to manifesting our destiny and bringing the light of our spirit into the world around us. Yi supports our capacity for thought, intention, purpose and clarity of thought.

When Yi is disturbed  there might be feelings of oppression and anguish that do not resolve, restlessness, obsessive and repetitive thought patterns, worry, muddled thinking, inability to make logical connections between ideas, over nurturing of others to avoid your own responsibilities and growth, continually generating new ideas but not taking action on any of them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lungs in Chinese Medicine are seen as Prime Minister in charge of regulation, governing Qi and respiration. Lungs are the resting place for the Po, which is seen as the most physical and material part of the human soul. It is said to be the somatic manifestation of the soul.

Po gets easily disturbed by worry, sadness and grief and this ‘knots’ Qi. There might be a feeling that something isn’t right, but unable to pinpoint the reason. There might be physical pain that takes over the entire life, yet seems to have no identifiable cause.

Person with Po disturbance may feel extreme sensitivity to outer influences of a psychic level; for example, being affected by other people’s negativity without awareness which may create somatic disturbances such as headaches, asthma and digestive upsets and can cause stress related skin problems.

Kidneys are often referred to as the ‘Root of life’. According to Chinese medicine, Kidneys store the Essence of life, govern birth, growth, reproduction and development.

The spirit that resides in Kidneys is called Zhi. When Zhi is disturbed, people continually push themselves to the point of total exhaustion or have no initiative at all. They use chemical stimulants, emotional excitement, ambition and desire to whip themselves forward which might result with insomnia, anxiety, chronic fatigue and back pain, fear, depression, inability to stay steady in pursuit of goals, lack of drive, motivation or over controlling nature.

Person with Zhi imbalance might feel inability to face fears which interfere with expression of their true self, identification with God using will to try to control others and situations around them. They might experience nervous breakdowns, which may be the result of extreme stress or long term repression of instinctual impulses.

If my brief overview of Spirit disturbance according to Chinese Medicine has aroused your curiosity to find out more, I recommend Lorie Eve Dechars book ‘Five Spirits’, where she so beautifully paints the picture of all the spirits through Chinese legends, beliefs and interesting case studies. This book is easy to read without having in-depth knowledge of Chinese Medicine.

 

 

Pick-me-ups and Put-me-downs

There is this two sided coin – can’t fall asleep can’t stay awake… We hear a lot of it, don’t we!
So here it is, few tips to help you along in both counts.

But remember, these suggestions here are just a quick fix, a Band-Aid. It is very important that you find out the true root cause for your sleeplessness or regular mid-day tiredness.

Pick-me-ups

The reason you might regularly have the mid-day slump is lack of proper sleep during night time or perhaps you had a heavy meal for lunch. What can be considered ‘heavy meal’ is different to everybody and their individual constitution. So perhaps pay attention to what you eat and how do you feel afterwards.

Cooked and warm foods are less energy consuming to digest than raw and cold foods such as fresh salads and yogurts. Maybe have more fish introduced to your diet rather than red meats. And maybe try to leave out bread or aim for gluten free bread even if you know you don’t suffer from gluten intolerance.

Now that the spring is in full force, the weather is more favorable to go out for a short stroll just to get the circulation going and to clear your head. But if deadlines don’t allow you these little luxuries in Regent Park, there are few things that you can try to boost your energy.

First thing I suggest is Ginger. Cut 2 – 3 medallions of fresh ginger root and pour on hot water. Cup of that brew will get you hopping in no time. Ginger tea contains a host of antioxidants and nutrients to give you that needed afternoon boost.

Bananas, rich in potassium and energizing B vitamins, bananas also help keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Pineapple is a good fruit to keep you going. It’s high in the amino acid tryptophan, which boosts levels of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin in your brain; plus manganese, essential for energy production, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene, and vitamin C.

Dark chocolate which has at least 70% cocoa will be rich in iron and magnesium which are highly-effective energizers.

Slow energy release foods such as raw nuts and seeds are good source of healthy fats and protein to balance blood sugar levels.

And where would we be if we didn’t mention Coffee. Assuming that by that afternoon low this will not be your third cup, coffee is a great stimulant. It’s known to improve memory, energy levels, mood, reaction times and general cognitive function.

Always keep hydrated! Water is your body’s most essential fuel. It keeps all of your body’s cells working at optimum levels. To avoid mid-morning fatigue, start your morning with a glass of water. Or better yet – juice from half of fresh lemon in the glass of water and half of teaspoon of soda. Let it fizz and drink first thing on empty stomach in the morning. This will leave you feeling fresh and ready to roll. And throughout the day, aim for about 2 liters of water per day.

Put-me-downs

It goes without saying that there should be no eating at least an hour before your bedtime. And no TV or last minute work on your laptop. If your body is still struggling to digest or if your mind is still racing over the drama in your favourite soap or that odd shortfall of your company’s quarterly income, then no matter how many sheep you’ll try to count, sleep will be hard to come.

But if despite all the precautions taken you still can’t sleep, then I recommend some of the tried and tested methods below:

Lavender is well known calming remedy. Few drops of Lavender essence on your pillow might be just the thing you need.

Camomile tea – mild and calming herb, known from far back in history as a solution for insomnia. With its anti-inflammatory properties it promotes healthy skin and is soothing for upset stomachs as well.

Valerian tea – is most effective natural herb for counteracting insomnia and anxiety. Stronger and faster in action than Camomile, it can cause drowsiness in more sensitive individuals.

Hops – as a tea or a tincture before bedtime has a sedative effect. It’s beneficial in relieving anxiety and inducing sleep and relaxation.

Acupressure – massaging your third eye with small circular movements can help your mind drift off the mundane and is known to work fast wonders with fussy babies.

You would also benefit from finding out if perhaps you are Magnesium deficient. It is known to be the ‘relaxation mineral’ and antidote to stress. Foods rich in magnesium are Pumpkin and Sesame seeds, Spinach, Quinoa, Soya and Black beans and Sea vegetables such as Kelp and Alaria.

And if you have time, just before bedtime, have a hot shower or a bath with Epsom salts. Water treatments are very calming as you surely remember from your last beach holiday.

And last, but not least, try guided meditation if you have trouble with busy mind. There are hundreds of versions to choose from on Youtube. Find the one you like, put on headphones, follow the guidance to concentrate your mind on one direction and let yourself drift off. Works on me like a charm!

When it comes to bad habits and addictions, such as chocolate, pastry, coffee or crisps and other processed, sugary or greasy foods, I believe, and I also speak from personal experience, changing them or giving them up is only difficult during the first week. Withdrawal symptoms can be annoying but if you keep your eye on the prize, and let your body detox, you will feel like a fresh new person soon enough.

Sleep-and-Work-Life-Balance

Food as medicine – Onion family

Onion family or Allium family includes the onion, garlic, chives, scallion, leek and shallot and hundreds of wild species including Ramson (also known as Wild Garlic or Bear Garlic) which I have found grows in Hampstead Heath Park.

I’m sure all of the above mentioned members of Allium family are known to us through cooking. And their use and cultivation history go back as far as Bronze Age. Archaeological finds and written texts about onion and garlic are found from ancient Egypt, Greece, China, Rome and India; each prescribing medical applications.

Nowadays we know Garlic for its antibacterial and antiviral qualities, making it a favourite old-time remedy for coughs and colds.

When you have a blocked nose you can chop up one glove of garlic, wrap it in a piece of bandage and inhale it til your sense of smell returns. Tried and tested on myself – it works!

One other trick I did mention in my previous article was very thin slices of raw garlic on toast. Little butter, little salt and voile – simple but effective kick to boost your immune system when you are already feeling a bit under the weather.

I prefer raw rather than cooked, as cooking and heating will lessen the potency.

And last, but not least, garlic breath is a well-known repellent, and not only against vampires…

Unassuming Onion, suitable for use in savory dishes more often than not, come in many types and sizes. Southern grown onions, Spanish onions for example are sweeter in flavor, and suitable for raw dishes and salads; Northern grown, such as yellow and white onion give more of a kick. For centuries onion has been used to reduce inflammation and heal infections. Rich in Vit C, B6 and Iron, onion also has ‘tear-gas’. Or in better terms, when you cut an onion, enzymes get released which mixing with your tears, forming a sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid burns, stimulating your eyes to release more tears to wash the irritant away.

Shallots are often considered a gourmet food, but they’re very simple to grow in the home garden. They add a delicate, distinctive flavor to salads and cooked dishes but they don’t keep as well as onions. Besides just being a tasty bulb-vegetable, they are rich in Vit A, Iron and Manganese. Overall Shallots have better nutrition profile than onions.

Ramson (Allium Ursinum), is protected species but can be gathered in moderation and it makes a great salad or pesto. A word of warning – the leaves look very similar to Lily of the valley, which is poisonous. Wild garlic is distinctive though – crush the leaves between your fingers and the distinct smell of garlic will confirm if it’s the right one.

Addressing the coffee lovers

Those creamy and gentle cappuccinos, soft like butterfly kisses or those smooth, tall and dark, Italian or French, kick in the backside morning brews topped with flawless caramel colored crema, have often woken the poet in us to sing odes to this heavenly perfection.
I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say that Milk and Coffee are the perfect pair, unless of course your religion is strictly Tea or you have an allergy to milk…
But…
When mucus related problems exist – such as discharges from the nose or other parts of the body, frequent colds, asthma, allergies, sinus problems, tumors, cysts, constipation, colon trouble, profuse growth of Candida albicanis, excess weight or thick tongue coating – dairy users might want to consider using better quality and/or less dairy products. That includes milk, all cheeses, yogurts, kefir and buttermilk.
This ‘retaining’ property of dairy applies to all animal milk, although most of the preceding discussion on dairy has referred to commercial cow’s milk. Goat’s milk however, has different properties. Those with excess mucus would still want to be cautious in the use of goat’s milk, but it forms far less mucus than cow’s milk as the fat structure in their milk is much more digestible than that of cow’s milk.
And because goats that graze freely enjoy a large variety of leaves, grasses and herbs, their milk contains rich amounts of nutrients not found in cow’s milk. For this reason goats milk is universally prescribed as a superior product for many types of deficiency, from youth to old age. When animal product nutrition is needed, raw goats milk is usually a good choice.
And…
When caffeine is taken in excess, any of several symptoms usually result: anxiety, nervousness, insomnia or light sleep patterns, various types of heart disease, stomach and intestinal maladies, and moodiness. When consumed regularly, as little as two cups of coffee can initiate these symptoms.
Coffee is warming, stimulating, diuretic and purgative. It has also been considered a mental stimulant, helping the user through periods of sluggishness from toxic overload. Coffee also purges the bowels in individuals who are commonly constipated from heavy fatty diet.
The acid in the coffee eats away the villi of the small intestine, reducing their effectiveness in supporting nutrient assimilation – most heavy coffee drinkers are deficient in calcium and other minerals.
Assuming that you have decided to give up coffee, withdrawal from it can be difficult as with most intoxicants. When coffee is stopped abruptly, headaches and constipation may result as well as drowsiness and moodiness. Lots of water and drinks made from barley or wheat grass juice powders help detoxify in any withdrawal program.

If I have inspired you to take a closer look at your health, there is a book I recommend you start with – ‘Healing with Whole Foods’ by Paul Pitcford. It is a written from both Asian Tradition and Modern Nutrition point of view, providing the essential information for becoming skillful in healing through diet.

Our face is the mirror to our soul

As time has passed perhaps you have started to notice the subtle changes in your face. Maybe your jaw line is not as tout as you remember it, frown lines have appeared between your brows and those fine lines on your forehead and around your mouth.
Good news! Til The Fountain of youth can be found, you can bring back the radiance and vitality in your face by Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture.

What can you expect from treatments?

Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture reduces or eliminates fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness and sagging while at the same time supporting overall health. Bags under the eyes can be diminished, drooping eye lids, brow lines, sagging jowls and double chin lifted. Treatment tightens the pores and improves muscle tone, increase collagen production and local circulation of blood and lymph to the face.

Why chose Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture over other treatments?

Acupuncture for facial rejuvenation is a wonderful holistic approach to fighting the aging process and provides effective, safe, natural and drug-free treatment to reduce the signs of aging. Cosmetic acupuncture or “the acupuncture facelift,” is a holistic alternative to plastic surgery, botox injections, collagen/filler injections and laser/chemical peels. There are no side-effects and unlike the above procedures, the actual causes of aging skin are addressed and treated, not simply masked.
Unlike surgery that may have the extended recovery period with swelling and discoloration, there is no trauma from Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture. And even though it cannot reshape ones nose or chin, it is a more subtle rejuvenation that takes years off ones face safely and naturally while improving overall health.

What is the procedure?

As Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic way of treatment, in the first session we would discuss your overall health history, lifestyle and diet and evaluate the changes you want to see in your face and skin.
Treatment itself will use hair fine needles inserted into specific areas of the face, neck, hands, feet and legs to affect changes in the face and the whole body.
If you have tried acupuncture before then you know that its virtually painless non-surgical method of treatment. The needles used on your face and neck are even finer than the ones used on the body.

A treatment series consist of 10 to 15 sessions, twice per week but beneficial results and changes in face can be observed after the very first treatment. As every person is unique with their metabolism, health history and current lifestyle, he/she will respond differently to treatments. A smoker or lifelong sun worshiper might require as many as 15 to 20 treatments to see results.

Curious yet to try it out for yourself?