Flax Seed Tea: the all important recipe for Hydration

LinseedsThe Autoimmune Disease Series

Recipe: Flax Seed Tea

Over the last few weeks I have been presenting a huge case for drinking plenty of water, especially if you have an autoimmune condition.  I have blogged about it and also uploaded my first video on it, for this Autoimmune series:  The five top reasons that you should be drinking more water if you suffer from an autoimmune disease.  So by now you should have got the message but also made a start on getting more of that life giving fluid into your body.

But what if your body just doesn’t absorb all that water?  What if instead it pours out of you like water from a hanging basket (when it doesn’t have enough water retaining gel in it)?

This gel can mean life or death to your plants through the summer and the Flax Seed Tea that I am about to show you,  can become your own water retaining gel.  The viscosity of this tea means that it will spend longer in your colon, giving it plenty more time to be absorbed along with all that gorgeous water in it.

Flax seeds are well known for their omega 3 fatty acid content (and if you don’t know much about that, sit tight because there will be plenty more about that over the upcoming weeks), but flax seeds drunk as a tea offer a huge benefit in the form of hydration.

 

“… if you are stressed your body can be like  a badly watered hanging basket. The water just goes straight through, hardly touching the sides! Linseed tea helps, because it is slightly gelatinous, this soothes and relaxes the colon, and allows it to absorb more water.”

I have posted a recipe before on making flax seed tea, but I believe that this one that Keith uses may allow the seeds to hold onto more of its therapeutic nutrients.

Flax seed tea recipe

Flaxseed tea saucepan

  1. Put 1 teaspoon of flax seed into a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 litre of fresh, filtered water
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. You can then sieve off the seeds if you wish (I keep mine in)
  5. Use this “gel” to make further cups of tea for the day by adding hot water to warm it again.  (Use about 1/4 – 1/3 cup flax seed tea and top up with hot water)

Hydration is the biggest benefit of flax seed tea that I am bringing to you today.  However regular drinking of flax seed tea offers many more therapeutic effects.  The mucilage in flax seed tea helps to:

  1. Soothe a sore throat and heartburn,
  2. Relax irritated lungs
  3. Sweep the colon and calm inflammation within it.  (Don’t take if suffering from a bowel obstruction)
  4. Reduce gas, bloating and abdominal cramps
  5. Relieve constipation

wonderwoman tea

Drink 1-2 cups of this flax seed tea per day in addition to 1-2 litres of water, to get your body water tight.

Wishing you all a very happy Easter

Gemma x

 

 

Why water on its own just isn’t enough- the importance of hydration for autoimmune disease and chronic disease conditions.

The Autoimmune disease series

“Water is the matter and matrix of life”.

Albert Szent-Gyorgi,  Nobel laureate biologist.

Hydration wordle

In my last blog post, I listed many things that were extremely helpful at reducing inflammation.  Number 1 on that list was hydration and it was no coincidence that I put it first.  It really is that important.

I am going to start by writing a simplified summary of my blog – for those of you who just want to know what is required and don’t need a full and more complicated explanation.  For those of you who need to know why I am asking you to do something read on after my summary:

So to summarise:

Water is crucial at a cellular level to ensure that a correct balance of nutrients can enter the cell and that waste can leave the cell.  If dehydration occurs then the cell membrane can thicken and movement into and out of the cell can become much harder and the whole process is less efficient.  This can effect your cleansing at a cellular level but this in turn will also affect the whole of your body making you more tired and sluggish.

Eat soups, smoothies, stews, raw foods in addition to plenty of water through the day (not more than 1 litre in an hour).

Fatty acids are a crucial part of this hydration picture – lending themselves to a much more permeable cell membrane which will allow for much better movement of water as well as the all important nutrients into and out of the cell.  Ancient cultures recognised the need for oil and the crucial part that it plays in hydration.

Reach optimum hydration and you will be living  your true potential; you will feel more connected and with more confidence to trust your inner wisdom to heal yourself.

Now to the longer, more in depth part:

I have said it before and I will say it again, hydration is the cornerstone of everything that I do as a Naturopath.  It is a big wide world out there and many people will be trying to sell you diets and supplements to help you to overcome your long term disease, be it autoimmune or otherwise.  I would say that before you embark on any new diet or start taking supplements, that you address your hydration levels first.

Your cells and your body are comprised of 60-70% water, so if you only concentrate your efforts on  getting that bit right, imagine the impact that you can have on your health.

If your body does not get enough fluids through pure fresh water, soups, smoothies, stews, raw fruit and vegetables etc, then it will try to preserve what fluids you do have.  It does so by coating each cell in more cholesterol (don’t get me started on that one, but yes we do produce our own, especially when our body is under stress). We can see an extreme situation of this fluid retention in oedema or swelling of hands or feet; a  severe symptom that may have its roots in serious levels of dehydration (always consult with a professional health adviser before treating such a condition as there may be issues with  other organs such as the kidneys or the heart  that may be compromised by sudden increases in fluids).  Always increase fluids gently.

The thickened cell membrane helps our body to prevent fluid loss, but this is at the expense of the integrity of our cell membrane.  We refer to this self protection mechanism by the body as it’s “dehydration alert”.  As a Naturopath it is the thing that I look to first to “switch off” so that the body and its organs,tissues and cells can relax and restore their normal functions.

You see our cell membranes are meant to be able to allow a free exchange of nutrients into the cell and of waste products out of the cell. This creates a cleansing cycle which is part of what allows us to wake up each morning feeling refreshed and with a spring in our step and enthusiasm for the day ahead.  Such exuberance might all be something that you can only remember feeling in the distant past, when you are in a chronic state of disease.  Feeling sluggish and ‘toxic’ in the morning is a sure sign that you are not fully hydrated.  There will be more work to do, but hydration is the first place to start.

So why isn’t just water enough?

In her book Cellular Awakening  Barbara Wren explains:

“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 how certain cultures have retained the knowledge that a very important ingredient for maintaining hydration is oil containing fatty acids.”

To understand this we need to go back to our cell membranes.  Our cell membranes are made up of phospholipids which make use of fatty acids.  These fatty acids are a crucial component of hydration as they create a much more flexible and responsive cell membrane.  If there is too much cholesterol protecting our cells from fluid loss, there will also be a loss of fluids entering the cell.  Fatty acids seem to displace this cholesterol and help to increase hydration at a cellular level.  Although oil and water does not mix it seems that osmosis can, does and must occur through cell membranes but this all important process is aided when fatty acids are present and plentiful in our cell membranes.  So next time you swill from your  water bottle consider your need for increasing your fatty acid intake.   Fatty acids are found in flax seeds and Krill oil which can be taken in therapeutic amounts in supplement form.

The fatty acids working within the phospholipid membranes also help to keep the membrane fluid and flexible allowing for an efficient exchange of nutrients and electrolytes.

It is this, in and out movement of electrolytes that maintains the correct charge on our cell membrane which in turn recharges our batteries so to speak .  The charge on our cell membrane attracts electrons which in turn receive photons of light.  This light keeps us switched on, ‘enlightened’.  It keeps us connected…connected with others, but perhaps more importantly with our very own innate wisdom, with intuition and from this comes our trust in ourselves and from this our ability to heal.

Top 10 ways to stop your pain and inflammation

The Autoimmune disease series

autoimmunity inflammation

 

Reduce your pain and inflammation

When I think of the top symptoms of autoimmune issues; I think of the flare ups that we wish to avoid: Rheumatoid arthritis and the painful swollen joints, of Hashimotos with a thyroid gland that is under attack, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus with its rash and soreness in the joints and Multiple Sclerosis which presents with an autoimmune inflammatory attack against the myelin sheaths of neurons.

I would use one word to sum it all up; inflammation.  The body is at war and is creating havoc at a cellular level with tissue damage as a detrimental  result.  We can see, heat, pain, stiffness, numbness and tingling as cells come under attack and impingement compresses the nerve supply.  There can be a lot of pain.  One of my clients described the intensity of it as like “having broken glass in my veins”.

With this in mind one of my first blogs of this autoimmunity series is to offer ways to reduce this pain and inflammation.

So my top 10 list;
  1. Maintain hydration
  2. Reduce unhelpful foods and beverages
  3. Address your stress
  4. Eat a rainbow
  5. Be Trigger Happy; Identify and eliminate food and environmental triggers
  6. What’s missing?  Address nutritional deficiencies
  7. Repair your leaky gut
  8. Address poor adrenal function
  9. Alkalise your tissues
  10. Are you toxic soup?  Have a long hard think about where other toxic elements might be creeping into your life

Here they are again – my top 10 ways to reduce inflammation (with a bit more detail).  I will be delving into each of these crucial topics in a lot more detail in my further blog posts.  So watch this space.

  1. Hydration.  Did you know that the mast cells that produce histamine are generally found in the gut.   It has been said that we do not produce histamine unless we are dehydrated…keep up a regular practice of drinking 1-2 litres of fresh filtered water every single day (no more than 1 litre in 1 hour).  Hydration is the cornerstone of every disease that I treat.  With our bodies comprised of approximately 60 – 70% water this humble beverage is crucial to our survival.  Vegetables and fruits contain water in this kind of percentage so eating them fresh will also be a vital part of keeping ourselves in tip top health.  At the very least, drinking adequate quantities of water throughout the day will dilute the effects of that histamine in the gut.
  2. Reduce unhelpful foods and beverages.  Caffeinated drinks, alcohol, smoking, poor quality fats and oils, mass produced ready meals will all contribute to a toxic load on the  body which will place a strain on all of its systems, but will notably impact on our stress hormone production, our immune system and our ability to cleanse effectively, three systems that will be critical to reducing our levels of inflammation in the body.
  3. Address your stress.  Very low calorie diets, mental chatter, taking on too much, being an “over achiever” or a “pleaser” will all take it’s toll on our stress levels.  There is a very definite connection between our stress levels with it’s  release of adrenaline and our immune system so this is a non-negotiable area to manage effectively.  Find your own way to unwind.  Need some ideas? Yoga, gardening, a walk in the countryside or by the beach, breathing techniques, massage, positive affirmations or a long hot soak in the bath.  Be sure to find something that will provide a daily release for you.
  4. Eat a rainbow  Increase your intake of inflammation soothing foods.  Think of including a wide colour palette; blueberries, avocados, walnuts, kale, carrots and apples.
  5. Be Trigger Happy – Identify and eliminate food and environmental triggers.  Wheat and Dairy are right up there as the top 2 most challenging foods; the ones that cause the most issues.  If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis you might also wish to cut out the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, chili peppers etc) as a reduction in these food triggers has offered relief to many people.  Meat too has been found to be challenging, bringing acidity to an already compromised system.  There may also be a parasite or infection such as Lyme disease that is lurking undetected in your colon, slowing the recovery process.  So consider testing for such ‘triggers’.
  6. What is missing? Address nutritional deficiencies.  An organic, freshly prepared, plant-based diet will go a long way towards supporting your body in it’s return to health.  However chronic disease can really take a toll on the nutrient required to maintain optimal health.  B vitamins for example are depleted during times of stress, so too are vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.  Many people with autoimmune diseases also struggle with vitamin D levels, which will be at their lowest during the winter months.  So consider testing for these vitamins and minerals or start a regular daily intake of these vital nutrients.
  7. Repair your leaky gut.  Scientists have now confirmed that in cases of autoimmune disease, the lining of the gut has been damaged and breached, leading to absorption issues and a compromised immune system.  Some key foods and spices such as stewed apples, coconut oil, cinnamon, cloves, garlic and turmeric with starches that offer fermentable fibers like leeks, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke and yam, when taken on a daily basis can help to heal this lining and restore its integrity.
  8. Address poor adrenal function.  A stress response that is working overtime will have a devastating effect on our adrenal glands.  The adrenal glands produce cortisol which is involved in regulating our immune system, so ensuring that our adrenal glands are given the time to rest and repair, along with supportive nutrients to help restore them will have an enormous effect on our fatigue and ability to suppress inflammation.
  9. Alkalise your tissues.  It has long been documented that although our stomach needs acid to properly break down our food and kill off pathogens, our tissues should on the whole be slightly alkaline.  Juicing and smoothies combines with plenty of soups and salads will really help to bring much needed electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium which will help at a cellular level to promote cleansing and reduce stiffness, aching and fatigue.  Meat, fish, eggs and grains are acid forming (rice less so) so minimise these where you can.
  10. Are you toxic soup?  Have a long hard think about where other toxic elements might be creeping into your life; GMO foods, plastic water bottles, aluminium takeaway containers, fish or amalgam fillings containing mercury, make up products and haircare products all offering a deadly cocktail for your body to process and deal with on a daily basis.

I will address these issues throughout my autoimmunity series, but if you are feeling overwhelmed by such a comprehensive list, here are some of the easiest things to try:

  • Drink water regularly (I will keep on saying this)
  • Reduce your stress, build in some time for your self and make it a regular thing – even just a long hot soak in the bath while you plan how you can make more of an impact on your stress levels.
  • Add some herbs and spices to your food – these seemingly small additions pack a mighty punch so sprinkle merrily; think cinnamon on your cereal, Italian herbs in your soups and turmeric and cloves in your curries.
  • Cut down on those unhelpful foods and possible trigger foods; start to cook more fresh food yourself, one recipe at a time with as many greens and vegetables as you can.

Look out in further blogs for more inflammation busting ideas, recipe suggestions and video tutorials – all dedicated to supporting your body with its task of tackling an  auto immune disease.

With love

Gemma x