Braised Kale, Butternut squash and coconut curry.

The Autoimmune Disease Series

I have another recipe for you today.  It is born from my trying to find interesting, non triggering, nourishing foods.  As such I bring to you: Braised kale, butternut squash and coconut curry.

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This recipe is a winner in so many ways:

  • It contains the super food turmeric, which itself contains curcumin, a potent antioxidant that gives turmeric its rich golden colour.  Turmeric is exploding in popularity in health circles as it is being credited with many cures.  It is helping people to lower pain and inflammation, fight cancer, relieve liver and gallbladder issues, heal the gut and delay the onset of diabetes.  Some have even gone so far as to say that it may have been the gold that was given to Jesus!  If you are suffering from an autoimmune or chronic disease eat this daily, or take a supplement.
  • This recipe  contains the healing trio of fat, turmeric and black pepper.  Being fat soluble, you will increase your absorption of the health boosting curcumin (in the turmeric) by cooking it with fat.  The fat will help the curcumin navigate the stomach to the small intestines and then the blood where you will gain the most benefit from it’s miraculous properties.  Taking curcumin with black pepper will increase its bio availability by 1,000 times.  So get grinding.
  • It contains the super food kale which is rammed with antioxidants.  As a green leafy vegetable it also plays host to lots of relaxing magnesium, which will help with tension and muscle aches along with promoting heart health and bone health.  Kale has beta carotene in abundance which among other benefits is known to promote a health lining of the urinary tracts, boosting urinary health.
  • Butternut squash increases the phytonutrient  whammy and something else that I haven’t mentioned yet is the significant amount of fibre, that will aid digestion, promote bile release and enhance good gut flora.
  • I use coconut oil to fry with as it has a high smoke point, avoiding the toxicity produced by damaged heated oils.  Coconut has loads of benefits too; anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.  It also contains a unique blend of medium chain fatty acids which can be really easily absorbed into your cells.  This can make coconut oil a really useful product for diabetics.
  • I have made a recipe that leaves out the nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, chili powders, aubergines and peppers), which appear to aggravate symptoms of autoimmune disease particularly inflammation of joints.  It is also grain free and vegan.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and sliced into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced or crushed
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 squeeze lemon or lime juice
  • A sprinkling of pumpkin seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add onion and squash with ginger, turmeric, mustard seeds, coriander and cumin.
  3. Fry gently, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 10 minutes.  If the spices start to burn add a little water to the pan and keep stirring.
  4. Add the kale and garlic, stir for a minute or two and then add the coconut milk, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve into bowls.
  6. Add a good grind of black pepper, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and zing it up with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

There are more ingredients in this than I would like.  I am trying to keep things simple for you.  Many of you, I know, will struggle to look at the page, let alone spend ages chopping and stirring.  I hope that my throw together method will ease things a bit.  By all means half the recipe if you wish, to cut down on chopping time (those butternut squashes can take their toll).  That said I wouldn’t recommend buying pre-chopped butternut squash, or anything else for that matter – I am trying to nourish and sustain you and the pre-packs will leave you with far less nutrients, let alone toxic compounds from anything that may have leached from the plastic packaging.

But that is a conversation for another day.

 

Gemma x

Pain Relief at your fingertips

The Autoimmune Disease Series

http://si.ewomennetwork.com/sites/default/files/SI-Banner_2.jpg

This week I have been dipping into the Hay House World Summit, watching key speakers discuss all sorts of mind, body and spirit issues.
A few key talks caught my eye and one of them was;
The Tapping Solution.
The video is only available for free until today, Thursday 28th May but don’t let this stop you from exploring this incredible technique; on-line resources for tapping are exploding.

The Emotional Freedom Technique, best known as “tapping” works through the use of a very simple method.  This involves talking through current issues, while physically tapping on energy meridian points on the face, hands, neck and under the arms.

The idea, which seems impossibly straightforward has changed thousands of lives, by taking clients back to the very core of their pain or emotional stuck point and talking them through it,  around it and out the other side of it.  Too simple?  Well actually yes, but it does work.

Watch this video, by Nick Ortner, an expert in this field who shows you how you can, quite literally tap your pain away:

(yes it is a bit out of synch).

Tapping is not just for pain, it has been shown to heal emotional trauma, addiction and release patterns of negative conditioning.

You can also tap for more money!(check out Margaret Lynch) So learn this incredible technique and start a daily tapping practice to become healthy, wealthy and happy.

Happy tapping.

Gemma x

 

A Huge Thanks to you wonderful people

 

I did not get the votes that I needed to Pitch to Rich.   A disappointment indeed.  But I have to say that I feel great.  I have been completely buoyed up by your support, energy, love and positivity.

Several people have made the connection between diet and disease because of this very campaign, so I can only see this as a positive thing.

It has also helped me to crystallise my path forwards and in stating my aim has made me answerable later down the line.  So I will be spurred on by this, to complete my cookbook.  Watch this space!

Thank you all again.  Right now I am feeling, who needs Richard anyway?  When I have this bunch of awesome loveliness behind me!

Much love and deep gratitude

From Gemma x

 

Please help me get over 800 votes to win pitch to rich…voting closes at 5pm

Please click this link now to vote:

http://www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitch-to-rich/start-up/health-wealth-and-happiness-ltd/

Voting is now open and closes on Wednesday at 5pm.  So please vote for me now.

Richard Branson imagePlease vote today for my Pitch to Rich proposal.

This is my second chance at voting as the lines crashed last time round.  They have opened up the voting again for this limited period.  I need 805 votes.

Please spread the word and the link and broadcast my plea on any social network site that you have access too.  I need aunts, brothers, neighbours, anything that moves and has an e-mail address.

A HUGE Thanks

Gemma x

Devour a Rainbow

 

The Autoimmune Disease Series

This blog is all about the sheer power of phytonutrients.  The compounds that give your food its colour.  Plants contain more than 100,000 phytonutrients, a reason that we are recommended to eat 9 servings (yes) per day.  Plants contain 64 times more phytonutrients on average, than animal foods.

My advice today is to eat as many colours as you can each and everyday.  Because with each colour comes a specific benefit.
The life restoring effects of these colourful compounds in your body can vary considerably; from anti cancer compounds and hormone balancing functions to protection against cell damage through antioxidant properties.  There appears to be a synergistic effect of combining colours.

Phytonutrients are loaded with health promoting goodness.  For example they:

  • generate optimal cell function and help cells to communicate better with each other,
  • facilitate more efficient enzyme production
  • prevent mutations at a cellular level,
  • are anti-inflammatory,
  • offer potent antioxidants
  • many have functions we are only beginning to understand. 
  • They help prevent cancer, heart disease and most chronic diseases in general, are anti-aging  and boost the immune system.
  • help to form healthier tissues and systems in the body
  • are potent detoxifiers

It means that when choosing food in the supermarket it can be worth paying the extra for red onions and purple broccoli, as well as ensuring that you throw apricots and blackberries into your basket along with the usual apples.

Take advantage of the seasons and rotate your colours around according to the produce available locally at the time – there is plenty of purple in the winter with purple cabbage, without the need for blueberries all year round for example.

Some phytonutrients, such as beta carotene need fat to be consumed, one good reason to eat carrots in a salad drizzled with olive oil.

Boiling and pressure cooking foods seems to harm the levels of phytonutrients compared to other cooking methods.

Beetroots and then red bell peppers are jam packed with phytonutrients offering the highest levels of antioxidant levels of vegetables.

Some phytonutrients benefit from the vegetable being lightly cooked, steamed kale will make some phytonutrients more available to the body.

So to be more specific:
Eat red foods primarily for their carotenoids and lycopene.  These phytonutrients help to keep your heart and circulatory system healthy.  They aid memory function and protect against some cancers and helps with urinary tract health.  Think beetroots, cherries, radish, kidney beans, cranberries, tomatoes and watermelon.

Find room for Orange and Yellow in your diet as they contain carotenoids and lutein which boost the immune system, help with  your heart health and are also good for vision.  Beta carotene is the most well-known carotenoid, wonderfully also attributed to increasing attractiveness through its production of a rosy glow to your skin.

Found in: Carrots, yellow peppers, butternut squash, apricots, Cantaloupe melon,  grapefruit,  yellow beets, yellow pears.

Bring on the Greens as fantastic sources of lutein and zeaxanthin.  These have been shown to lower the risk of some cancers, protect against heart disease, maintain vision, critically helping to protect against glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness, cataracts and macular degeneration.   Greens also protect against birth defects.  They keep blood cells, bones and teeth strong.  Broccoli contains another phytonutrient, sulforaphane which also happens to be the most powerful natural inducer of our liver’s detoxifying enzyme system.
Try to eat plenty of Artichokes, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, cucumbers, green beans, green peppers, kale, kiwi, celery,  and spinach.
Blue and purple colours in food contain flavonoids and anthocyanins.  These can reduce the risk of some cancers and promote healthy aging.  They can improve urinary tract function and memory function and are also great for heart health.   Purple grape juice has been recognised for its phenolenic phytonutrients which make it the strongest contender in terms of  protection against Alzheimers.

Look out for: Blueberries, plums, blackberries, black beans, aubergines, elderberries, purple cabbage, purple grapes and raisins.

White and Brown foods offer sulfur compounds which are important detoxifiers.  This will lower toxicity in your body and maintain you heart and circulatory system.   It will also offer cancer protection.
Bananas, black-eyed peas, cauliflower, dates, figs, garlic, butterbeans, mushrooms, onions and nuts.
The phytonutrients in flax seeds help our body in the formation of lignans, greatly benefiting our all important gut flora.
So there you have it.
Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain
and I hope that you find your pot of gold.
Gemma x

Sexual Healing; Heat up your kitchen with this Black Bean Salsa.

The Autoimmune Disease Series

I have taken this recipe from:  Intercourses:  An Aphrodisiac Cookbook, by Martha Hopkins

Have you been feeling like you have been falling apart  for too long now?  Feeling all fifty shades of grey? The heat in this recipe should put some voom into your life!

There are some great benefits to this salad:

  • Black turtle beans have come out on top of the other beans in a recent test for antioxidant properties and are fantastic for your colon.
  • Anti inflammatory properties of coriander – particularly for skin disorders.
  • The ‘Love fruit’ mango, is known for its aphrodisiac properties, high in vitamin E it helps to regulate sex hormones and is also packed with antioxidants and helps to alkalise the body.
  • Massive amounts of vitamin C in the peppers, will also help you to absorb iron.  Taking iron supplements can be quite toxic for the body so improving absorption through increasing vitamin c intake may be a better way to boost your levels.

Black bean salsa bowl

Recipe: Black Bean Salsa

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 green pepper
  • 1/4 red pepper
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 115g canned black beans (or pre-cooked dried beans)
  • 75ml (3 fl oz) pineapple juice
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • 1 tbls ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbls finely chopped green chilli
  • salt and pepper
  1. Soak the black beans and cook for 1 1/2 hours if using dried beans.
  2. Combine the mango, peppers, onion, black beans, pineapple juice and lime juice, coriander, cumin and chilli in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chill.

Caution

Keep an eye on your symptoms for a couple of days after this salad.  If you find that any of your conditions worsen, particularly inflammation of the joints; then you may need to consider taking out the nightshade family from your diet for a while, to see if they are triggering your symptoms.

The nightshade family consists of Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, aubergines, chillies and paprika, watch out too for curries and curry sauces, pastes and powders.   Use black pepper instead to add heat to your food.  Black pepper also aids digestion.

Also if you are having a time of flare ups there may already be too much heat in your system so don’t add fuel to the fire, concentrate instead on some cooling foods such as cucumber or melon.  Alternatively you can help to balance the heat by serving this black bean salad with some chilled non dairy coconut yoghurt – my latest find in Waitrose and health food shops.

Eat, pray, love.

Gemma x

Please vote for me today, as I Pitch to Rich

Please click this link now to vote:

http://www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitch-to-rich/start-up/health-wealth-and-happiness-ltd/

Voting closes tonight at 5pm, so don’t hesitate and do please keep trying as the servers keep crashing.

Richard Branson imagePlease vote today for my Pitch to Rich proposal.

Big Thanks

Gemma x

Omega 3 supplements for depression and anxiety?

The Autoimmune Disease Series

 

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In this blog I am going to show you just how crucial omega 3 fatty acids are for your brain and nervous system.  This will be especially important if some of the symptoms of your autoimmune disease include anxiety or depression.

  • Fats make up around 60% of your brain and the nerves that send out messages to your entire body, signalling to every system within it.
  • Of these fats the Omega 3’s play a paramount role, offering profound anti-aging effects on the structure and function of the brain, from cognition and memory to mental health and the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
  • Omega 3’s have recently been associated with increased volume of the brain’s grey matter, particularly in those parts of the brain associated with happiness, and they boost intelligence by enhancing brain function from birth onwards.
  • These fatty acids support the structure of  brain cells, which in turn contributes to the increase in the production of critical neurotransmitters, and reduce oxidative and inflammatory damage.
  • Ranges of 1,000-3,000 mg of EPA and 1,000-1,500 mg of DHA have been found to bring about significant improvements in symptoms of depression, aggression, and other mental disorders, in addition as providing protection against early cognitive decline and even early Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthy brain cells are composed of both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, they help to form the cell membrane and they also form the building blocks of the transport system of your cells.  This vitally allows us to keep fluids in the right place.

Your mood, energy and your ability to think clearly can all be affected by even mild dehydration.  When your body is dehydrated your blood does not flow so freely, hormones don’t reach their destination, muscles may constrict making you feel tense and your brain will sense the water loss.  For some people the muscle weakness, headaches, low blood pressure, lightheadedness and increased heart rate may trigger panic attacks.

The point here is that fatty acids help you to keep your body fluid in the right place – helping you to stay hydrated.

People living in arid countries also have ways to maintain hydration within their culture.  For example, in Morocco the women working in the fields don’t take a lot of water with them; instead they take freshly pressed argon oil.  We see here how certain cultures have retained the knowledge that a very important ingredient for maintaining hydration is oil containing fatty acids.

Barbara Wren – Cellular Awakening

Eating the wrong kinds of fats can cause the brain cells to be compromised as the body struggles to make up the cell membrane from inappropriate fats, contributing to poor brain function.

If we understand anxiety and depression to be largely issues of the brain and mind, then supporting the regeneration of brain cells, may play a pivotal role in alleviating symptoms.

Clinical trials have implied benefits of supplemental omega 3 fatty acids on brain function and mood:

People who get more omega-3s actually have bigger, more functional brains.

In fact, the serotonin-related benefits of omega-3 supplementation are powerful enough to stand up to a head-to-head comparison with fluoxetine (Prozac®), a common and highly effective member of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) category of modern antidepressants.32 In that study, 50% of subjects responded well to fluoxetine alone, 56% to EPA supplementation (1,000 mg), and an impressive 81% in people who took both forms of treatment.32

https://www.lef.org/magazine/2010/8/omega-3-fatty-acids-increase-brain-volume/page-01?checked=1

 Ensuring therapeutic doses of Omega 3’s may help to lower some of your auto immune symptoms.  In this article I have focused on what omega 3’s can do for your brain, mood and anxiety symptoms.  Do not forget that this amazing fatty acid will also help you to lower inflammation in your body.

Take supplements, eat freshly ground flax seed every day – boost your levels, enhance your mood.

Wishing you every  happiness

Gemma x

Can this turn around for autism prove to be a vital link in your own autoimmune disease symptoms?

The Autoimmune Disease Series

 When I watched this TEDx talk I was moved to tears and I realised that it had to be my blog of the week.  I can’t say it enough, go back to basics; home cooking, food that you recognise…but watch out for the bouillon!

With Love
Gemma

Why the stress in your life might be the number one reason that you are still sick with an autoimmune disease.

stress matches

“I think nutrition certainly plays a strong role but we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge the role that I  think increasing stress of modern life plays in the rising incidence of autoimmune disease”  Chris Kesser

http://chriskresser.com/rhr-can-autoimmune-disease-be-prevented-and-reversed

The Autoimmune Disease Series

 This week I am going to examine some research that shows us how stress, in whatever form it takes, can create a chemical cascade in the body that results in inflammation.

Inflammation in turn causes a leaky gut.
Alessio Fasano, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Celiac Research , a cutting edge researcher into autoimmune disease, explains that a compromised gut, is one of three key components in autoimmune disease.

So this week we are going to look at the following:

  • Stress and inflammation, why this can be a viscous cycle.
  • Understanding that there are many different types of stress.
  • Examining three factors involved in autoimmunity.
  • Introducing Zonulin, a protein that regulates the tight junctions in your gut.
  • Switching off your fight or flight response – tips and tricks to lead a less stressful life.

If this all looks too complicated to you, the take away from this week’s blog is to identify the areas of stress in your life and find ways to cut them down or out.  Also look at some methods that can help you to relax and switch off your “fight or flight” response.

So it might be that you have made some great changes in your diet, you are taking anti inflammatory and supportive supplements and yet flare ups are still an issue.  Or maybe you are just at the beginning of your journey with an autoimmune disease; either way this session will be a really important one, so read on.

Now let us take a more in-depth view of what happens to your body when you suffer from stress:

Sheldon Cohen from Carnegie Mellon University says:

“Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control.”

He has observed that long-term stress can alter the efficiency of cortisol to regulate your inflammation response.  This is because stress decreases your tissue sensitivity to cortisol, that is your immune cells become less-responsive to cortisol in a similar way to diabetics and insulin resistance.

This means that when your stress levels are chronic, you put yourself at risk of runaway inflammation which spins out the kind of symptoms that we see so often in autoimmune diseases.

Remember here that stress can take many, many forms, from a bad relationship with your mother, to overexercising; from damp and mouldy rented accommodation, to a gut infection; from spiraling debt, to shift work, or an injury.

Unfortunately it can take a lot of effort to break away from damaging behaviours, relationship conflicts and poor lifestyle choices.  There can be a downward spiraling of stress and the consequent  chronically inflamed picture that we see all too often.

So now is the time to tell yourself to step back, identify where the stress lies in your life, imagine how you would feel if you could shrug off that anxiety and address that toxic relationship, or change your working hours, stop driving yourself so hard.

Find another way forward.

In A Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases, Alessio Fasano, offers an alternative theory on autoimmune disease, that is rapidly gaining support through the scientific studies that support his work.

To understand this we should first look at his earlier work where he describes a three legged stool approach to the model of autoimmunity.  He suggests that there are three vital components to autoimmune disease.  If any one of these components are not part of the picture, the symptoms do not appear.  The three are:

  1. A genetic predisposition
  2. An environmental trigger
  3. A leaky gut

A leaky gut is of particular importance in this trinity because it represents your body’s last chance.  If you already are genetically predisposed and you come under the influence of an environmental trigger all will be well if there are no holes in your gut.  It is only when this last line of defence is breached, that your body will initiate an immune response, generating inflammation not only in your gut but elsewhere in the body too.

Fasano explains in his recent paper that researchers have recently identified a protein called zonulin, which they have found regulates the tight junctions in your gut wall.

When zonulin levels rise, the tight junctions open partially and this is the moment when your gut integrity is breached,  now potential “triggers” may pass through into your blood stream.  This is when we will see your body mounting an immune response and presenting you with those flare-up symptoms that you know so well.

Gluten can increase zonulin levels in the body, but so too it appears can inflammation.  We have come full circle, to chronic stress which,  may well also increase zonulin levels in our body, contributing to one of the three legs of Fasano’s three legged stool of autoimmunity.

So how can you manage your stress?

When stressed or overwhelmed, the immediate relief is always in the softening, and the surrendering. Your surrounding world already offers its medicine everywhere. Place your hands in the soil to feel grounded. Wade into water to feel cleansed and healed. Fill your lungs with fresh air to feel mentally clear. Raise your face to the heat of the sun to feel your own immense power. You are part of the earth, and comprised of the very same elements. And this is something you should remember. – Victoria Erickson

  1. Look at food stressors such as the unhelpful foods that I listed in last weeks blog.  Look also for food triggers such as wheat or dairy and look to eliminate them for some time to see what an effect this has on your overall health.
  2. Get out in nature, better still take off your shoes and socks and get grounded on sand, grass or soil.
  3. Take time out to meditate, practice yoga, so breath work or visualisation exercises.
  4. Journalling – get your mental whirlwind down and out onto a page
  5. Slow down.  If you have a demanding and hectic job for instance, don’t head for the gym after work, stop pumping that adrenaline; go to a yoga session or for a sauna instead.  Take time to eat your meals (and chew them!).  Sit down at a table to enjoy home cooked food, cut down on food on the go.  Relax.
  6. Take responsibility for your own health and well being, set up a support team that is positive; friends, family, support group, yoga teacher and nutritionists can all offer help and advice at different times.
  7. Have an Epsom salt bath, to help you to relax and unwind after a long day.  You would be surprised how many clients I see that can’t even find time for this; they always use a shower because it is quicker.

Cutting out your stress might be one of the hardest changes that you need to make, but might also prove to be the most important one.  Lessen the “fight or flight” response and switch instead to “rest and digest”. Really this should be non-negotiable.  Lighten up your life.

“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well”

Gemma x