Beat The Heat – Five Health Foods That Can Keep You Cool This Summer

Summer is here.

We’re sweating buckets, and begging for shade.

When it’s hot, it’s all too easy to grab an ice cream or a cold lemonade for a frozen sugar rush, but are there any health foods that can naturally aid your bodies ability to regulate its temperature?

Homeostasis is the system by which the body maintains a number of checks and balances. Temperature, heart rate, blood glucose and pH to name a few, are all regulated by this system. Your body is in a constant balancing act to maintain homeostasis. When you’re not at your healthiest, it can struggle or become sluggish to environmental pressures, taking much longer to respond, which in turn takes a toll on the body.

Core temperature is sensed by fine nerves in the skin, the great veins and the spinal chord, among other systems. When temperatures drop, sensors alert the hypothalamus and the brain sends signals to initiate vasoconstriction, a process whereby all blood vessels (especially those on the extremities) shrink in diameter. The opposite is true when temperatures increase. Your blood vessels are commanded to relax and open up (advice I could use myself).

The effect of vasoconstriction and vasodilation is one of thermal conservation or loss. Constriction prevents blood flow over the larger extremities where surface area is increased, allowing heat to be lost more rapidly. When dilation occurs, more warm blood is able to get to the most heat wasteful areas of the body to cool down. Think of your body as a very efficient 2 in 1 radiator. You give off heat, or you close the pipes, depending on environmental temperature.

Not all of us are in prime condition when it comes to these processes however. Some of us have compromised homeostatic abilities due to unhealthy lifestyles or chronic conditions. For instance, those who suffer from heart disease may not be able to cool or warm up because the effectiveness of their heart muscle is compromised and arteries may be damaged. In those with Reynaud’s a type of spasmodic vascular response, vasoconstriction may happen even when temperatures are not too cold.

What can we do to support the process of vascular constriction and relaxation? Here are five foods you can incorporate into your diet to help support your bodies ability to react to temperature changes, especially important as it gets warmer!

As a shout back to my post on ‘What Would Jesus Eat?‘, many of the foods that ancient israelites ate supported excellent circulation. I suspect this is due to the climate’s extreme temperature. The bodies ability to dilate the blood vessels effectively seems very importantin these hot conditions. Pomegranates, garlic, onions and wine are all excellent foods to support circulation and vasodilation. Check the post out for more examples!

Green Leafy Vegetables

red and green leaves on white surface

Green leaves are full of nitrates which the body can convert into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator which can improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Eat your veggies if you want to stay cool!

Oranges, Lemons and Limes, Oh My!

bunch of orange fruits

Ok, well it’s not just oranges and lemons, you’ve also got grapefruits and other citrus fruits too! Citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants which can reduce inflammation in the lining of the arteries. Inflammation causes hardening in the arterial walls which, over time, leads to a poor temperature response. An artery that is less flexible will not respond well to the demands of temperature change. Support your bodies response by eating lots of citrus which will keep your vascular system bouncy and supple!

Cinnamon, Hot But… Not?

brown wooden sticks

Maybe you ought to have your spiced orange wine in the summer rather than at Christmas to incorporate your citrus and your cinnamon! Cinnamon is a great spice that goes with many things and makes them taste even better. It’s implicated in better blood flow and heart performance under stress. For once, we’re barking up the right tree (it’s a pun I’m so sorry).

Berry For Your Thoughts?

blueberry fruits

Berries are delicious. You can’t NOT like berries, right? Anyway, like citrus, berries are brimming with antioxidants which support the bodies ability to elastically respond to temperature changes in the atmosphere. Berries are usually cheaper in the summer as well, so go mental! Get as many berries as you can, make your face look like a jammy mess. I’ll allow it, just this once.

Walnuts, As Sexy As They Are, Wrinkly…

bundle of white seeds

I absolutely SWEAR by walnuts. These blossoming, nutty brain sculptures are excellent for a whole range of ailments. They will help if you experience chronic skin issues, prostate or bladder problems, diabetes and will even improve heart health. Which is kinda why we’re here. They are packed with beautiful antioxidants that will soothe the lining of your vascular system like a luxurious, sexy oil rub for your insides. They are also filled with prebiotic fibre which supports digestive health. I’m a firm believer that many of our bodies health issues originate in the gut, so these little powerhouses of nutrition should be pouring out of your cupboard. I’m serious. Just put these nuts in your bed, by your computer, in your car. Wherever you are, they is, kapiche?

As you might expect, a lot of these foods are already health foods and something you should try to incorporate in your diet. If you have to choose just one though, try and add walnuts, as I really do think they are an absolutely phenomenal health food which can tackle all of the important issues that anyone with chronic disease or poor circulation may have.

But the good thing about many of these foods is that they are in season during the summer when your body needs that support the most to keep you cool. Berries and citrus fruits can be bought cheaply and you should take advantage of this! I’m a big believer in buying foods which are in season. Nature made them that way!

I hope some of this can give you an insight into how to tackle the summer heat. The vascular system is so complex and fascinating. Learning a bit of science while you eat can’t be bad, right?

Please like, comment, and subscribe for more interesting health tips.

Julian

100 Followers!

So here we are, 100 followers!

Thank you so much for joining with me on the road to better health.

I started this blog as a way to reconnect with nature and our health. This is something I strongly believe in and want to bring to everyone who’ll listen!

The thing is, health is often taken for granted, or not made a priority in our busy lives, and that is wrong.

We have never needed to prioritise our health more than we do now, as we are bombarded by stressful lifestyles, shorter time windows for eating, and food that is killing us, all while saying it’s curing us.

So, anyway, this is a brief thank you from me.

I know it’s early days yet and 100 doesn’t seem a lot, but I am so so SO grateful for the support of every single one of you.

This is as much a journey for me, as it is for you.

I think we can learn a lot together, raise each other up and grow into healthier people. I am so passionate about health and wellbeing, reclaiming your energy and autonomy from all the chronic pain and fatigue that can set in from poor diet, and generally living a happier life. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than share what I find with you beautiful people through this medium.

Here’s to unbridled self-improvement and personal success to all of us!

Keep learning, keep healthy and keep happy.

Julian

What Would Jesus Eat?

I’m trialling a new series.

I’m looking at diets from around the world and seeing if anything we used to do has any merit today.

Jesus would have eaten an ancient Israelite diet, so let’s see what that involves.

Surprisingly, a large number of health foods were regularly consumed by the Israelites, so we’ve got a pretty solid anti-inflammatory diet here.

Jesus is always depicted drenched in amber glow, kissed by the warm silken banner of the almighty, but could a portion of that be due to a diet full of healthful foods promoting beautiful golden skin?

Let’s check out some of the staples in Jesus’ day:

Olive Oil

Olive oil and olives grew well in this mediterranean climate, so they were abundantly used. Olive oil was likely to have been cold pressed, avoiding the damage that other heated processes can cause to this stable oil. Oilve oil is high in unsaturated fats, which are linked to lower levels of heart disease and related disorders, like high blood pressure.

Figs and Dates

Figs grew well in this climate and are an excellent source of prebiotic fibre. Prebiotics support the natural gut flora and suppress the growth of pathogenic settlers! Dates are sweet, but also contain some fibre which slows down digestion and prevents unhealthy insulin spikes from occurring. Dates were also fermented into a drink called ‘Shechar’. Fermented beverages contain probiotics which help to colonise the gut with helpful bacteria.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates are unlikely to have been a huge part of the ancient Israelite diet, but they nevertheless tout a number of health benefits. A recent study found that pomegranate extract could reduce inflammation by bringing down blood lipid levels (a known risk factor for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a range of other inflammatory conditions). Israelites probably would have eaten this fruit fresh in season, and may have fermented it into wine to preserve it out of season.

Wine

Many of you know that too much wine can cause inflammation and liver damage over time, but a little every day can actually support health. Red wine, which is what Israelites would largely have had access to, can reduce inflammation because it contains lots of antioxidants which inhibit cellular damage.

Dairy

This is where it gets really interesting. There were no cows in ancient Israel, so milk, cheese, and yogurt were made solely from goats. Goat milk is widely accepted as anti-inflammatory. Many who cannot tolerate cows milk can drink goats milk without difficulty. Due to the naturally warm temperatures, this could also be made into a range of probiotic yogurts and even something similar to ghee or clarified butter, which has become a popular health food.

Fish

Coastal and river dwelling inhabitants would have had access to a range of fresh fish. Fish is naturally high in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, both of which are shown to support longevity and provide anti-inflammatory effects in the ratios naturally found in marine foods. Fish were also salted and dried, producing a lean, protein rich food source that could be transported and kept in storage without going off.

Leeks, Onions and Garlic

Potent prebiotics, these three vegetables were often added to a range of cooked dishes for flavour and nutrients. These three in particular have been praised in the scientific literature for contributing to the health of the gut due to their high levels of prebiotic fibre, which help good bacteria populate the large intestine, crowding our pathogens which cannot digest it. Leeks, garlic and onion are all related, coming from the onion family.

Wheat

Any of you Keto/ Paleo people will reel in horror at the notion that wheat was a staple in ancient Israel, but this was not the refined wheat you are used to today. Most widespread was Emmer Wheat, an ancestor of Durum Wheat. Durum wheat is a much heartier grain which contains more fibre and is less processed. It also contains less gluten, which is inflammatory to the gut lining.

Overall, to eat like Jesus, was to eat surprisingly well! Lots of healthy oils with anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Fruits and vegetables with prebiotic fibre. Dairy from goats instead of cows, and fresh fish some of the time! On a side note and not mentioned above, meat was rarely eaten during the year, and when it was, it was largely goat, with some chicken, duck and goose. Too much meat has been implicated in heart disease as well as some cancers, most commonly colorectal.

Jesus is known for his wisdom as a prophet in Christianity, and is a guiding light for Christians across the globe, but even those of us who aren’t religious could probably learn a thing or two about health from this historical figure.

If you enjoyed this short insight into diets from around the world, let me know in the comments, and as ever, please like and subscribe for more to come!

J

Can Big Food Corporations Really Claim To Care About Us?

Coca Cola and other big brand names are pulling ad funding for Facebook due to some novel kind of ‘moral obligation’ to themselves and the general public.

Yet Coca Cola is one of the largest funding bodies for the American Diabetes Association, who’s CEO’s are paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for leading a ‘non-profit’ organisation.

Just think about that for a second. The largest advisory board for diabetes health is also taking huge sums of money from Coca Cola et al, to give advice to people suffering with the condition.

Does that sound very moral to you?

Coca Cola, both full fat and fat free, are seriously contributing to diabetes and obesity in America. Both the added sugar and the artificial sweeteners have DEFINITIVELY been implicated in rising obesity and diabetes numbers.

Do you really think coca cola and friends have any kind of moral obligation to anyone, least of all you, the every day man or woman, to avoid platforms or products which are causing division and disease?

Facebook has been involved in a number of data breaches and security scandals, it is also run on algorithms which thrive on negativity (please take a look at this article where I talk more about that), and it’s losing ground to more popular visual platforms like snapchat and instagram (but it still owns these companies, so be aware).

It’s much more likely that big corporations are sensitive to these aspects of Facebook’s recent behaviour which can potentially harm their image, than due to any arbitrary sense of ‘moral obligation’ to the public.

All I’m asking is that people remain vigilant and alert to language which takes on a moral tone, when it’s coming from large multi-national companies. The likelihood that morality plays any part in choice is low to none in most cases. Where you see language like ‘we care’, or ‘we have a duty’, or virtue signalling regarding current world affairs, you would be safest to take that language with a pinch of salt.

As always, do your research, listen to all sides of the argument, and never dismiss the idea that businesses may not be working to make your life better.

It’s not out of the question that they might not be rooting for you in the way that they say they are.

Stay safe and aware, and please like, comment, and subscribe for more information on digestive health, diet and society.

Julian

Stoicism On A Diet – What Would Marcus Aurelius Do?

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

― Marcus Aurelius

When we think about health, we think of ‘new beginnings’, of turning over a new leaf, or starting afresh.

It’s a time for throwing away our past defeats and diving into the kick with a revived child-like vigour.

‘This time it’ll be a success. I’ll have the willpower, time, and energy to make it work, and I’ll never give up!’

Admirable, in a ‘not gonna work, but I admire your zeal’ kinda way.

I’m not saying the effervescent optimism of a health kick isn’t charming, and useful, even, when used properly, but to win in the health game, you have to buckle down for the long haul. The honeymoon period doesn’t last long, and before you know it, that deliciously crisp ceasar salad, filled with antioxidants and nourishing vitamins, is a wilted, sweaty abomination, sending you overboard into a miserably deep ocean of relapse, filled with sweet carbs and sumptuous, forbidden fried delights.

That’s why I love that quote by Marcus Aurelius, a Grecian Emperor and stoic philosopher from ancient times.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Stoicism is the belief that all you can change is your perception. The only control that you have is in the way that you tackle the chaos that sweeps your daily life.

When you apply this to dieting, it provides you with a refreshing approach.

Instead of getting bored and giving up, then slipping into a spiralling pit of despair coated in syrup and lard, you can change your approach.

Having a bad day? Did you eat something naughty?

Ok, well now we get to analyse what we could do to prevent that. Could we take something out of our day that then makes everything more easy to tolerate? Could we maybe find a different way to approach a difficult or stressful task which makes it less of a monster? Do we need to think that all our hard work is destroyed because we ate something bad?

When we start questioning the habits that cause us to react poorly, we can begin to regain some control over them.

The obstacle becomes the way.

We want to look at what is making our life more difficult. The boulder of hardship. Can we find a way over it, a way under it or a way around it?

If we can, can we do it every time we come across it? Better to slip past, or chip away at an obstacle than to spend hours and days crumpled in a heap over the whole agonising weight of its total mass, like a behemoth of misery and despair that we, personally, have to lug up hill.

Changing our approach to dieting by making our lives easier, adapting our habits, and maybe even recruiting the help and support of our friends and families, can make the whole burden of the task so much easier to face.

That’s why I love stoicism.

I just like the simplicity of self-analysis it affords.

You just need to look at your biggest problems and find better ways to tackle them.

And I know, seriously, I know, that that is easier said than done when you’re already overwhelmed. Your plate is already well past full (your metaphorical plate, but your real plate can also be full so long as it’s mainly wholefoods, don’t limit yourself).

I’m just saying that self-care is really important, and if you don’t give yourself some time to reflect, you’re going to burn out faster than a tealight from poundland. Sometimes we need five minutes just for us to get some perspective and start tackling those problems, one at a time, bit by bit.

Meditation can also be great for this. Asking yourself a question, just dropping it into your subconscious. ‘How can we tackle x?’. Not demanding an answer, just taking 5 – 10 minutes and just dropping the question. Eventually, answers bubble up!

So anyway, next time your start to feel like flinging your salad, ripping all of your clothes off, and screaming from your cubicle in the office, just think, ‘how can I approach this differently?’. Give yourself five minutes to relax, maybe even take a meditative minute to drop that question in the dimming pool of your mind. See what comes up. ‘The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way, becomes the way.’

Diet is an obstacle. If we keep approaching it the same way, we’ll never keep going with it. We need to constantly find new ways to approach it, or the obstacle will overwhelm us. Just remember, there is always a way around, through or under your health obstacle, you just need to find out which way works best for you, and allow yourself the space to get there without judgement.

Now get your chisel, there’s a big bully boulder ahead, waiting to be slugged down to size.

Preachy – When Health Blogging Gets Ugly

As health bloggers, we want what’s best for our subscribers.

We want to make sure that we’re bringing good content which can help readers achieve their goals because we’re passionate about living healthier and happier lives.

Spreading the joy of a healthier life is good.

Well, yes and no…

We’re treading a fine line between what can help people and what can come across as bossy, preachy or overly invasive lifestyle advice.

When you become a preachy writer, you’ve reached the end of the road. It implies there is no more to learn about your subject. You’ve reached the pinnacle of enlightenment, which we know is impossible in the world of health.

New research and data crashes through the internet every single day. Scientists and health professionals are only just beginning to tap the potential of the human body for self-healing through diet and exercise. We barely understand the basic process by which our bodies function. How could we ever say to the people we write to: ‘I know it all, that’s it amigo, just follow me and you’re cured!’.

But how do you avoid that trap?

Can we go back to the place it all began? Why are we doing this? What did we want to achieve in the beginning? Even asking some of the harder questions we might be avoiding. Do we still care the same way that we did when we started? If we don’t, can we find a way back to caring?

When we look back on our starting point, we can come home to roost on our values and desires.

I started to tackle my own health issues which had become too pressing to ignore. I remember that feeling of helplessness, of not knowing what to do and the depression that followed. I was begging for someone to help me, to show me some compassion.

More doctors visits, more half-mumbled explanations, more anxiety and fear. Nobody felt the need to explain anything to me properly. They either didn’t feel it necessary, or they couldn’t be bothered. I’m the sort of person who likes to know how something works before I use it. Why should health be any different? Don’t we all deserve a clearer explanation?

I never wanted anyone to feel the way that I did. To suffer in silence and to be so paralysed by the sheer spread of information as to have no clue where to start, who to follow, and what health problem to target first.

We health bloggers need to keep in mind why we started blogging. Remind ourselves that we’re on a journey with our subscribers to better overall health, and that we don’t have all the answers, but we’re doing our best to find out what works. We’re trying to connect with the reader, demonstrate our driving values, our origin story, and walk with our audience arm in arm on a road to better understanding.

When we’re preachy, we’ve taken a wrong turn. We’ve shirked our responsibility for self-development, and we’re letting our followers down by giving up. That’s not fair to us or them. Never stop learning, growing and developing your ideas. And most importantly, take your readers with you from ignorance, to less ignorance, but never to full knowledge.

One more thing.

There’s a certain irony in this post that I think some may pick up on. ‘Well, Julian, this all seems a little bit like you’re telling us, rather than joining with us.’, and you would be right. I am telling. But the difference lies in what you’re trying to achieve. This is kinda autobiographical. I’m telling you, so that I can remind myself. This medium lends itself to telling. Telling stories, facts, opinions or the events of inspirational lives. We have to tell people things because that’s what we’re doing. We’re writing to people all over the world about how to improve their health.

As long as we remember that we’re teaching ourselves as well as others in the process, we’re not going to end up preachy. That’s the important bit. Listen to your voice and make sure it’s authentic, insightful and self-reflective.

We’re going somewhere. We don’t know all the answers, but we’re trying our best to get some clarity on some life-changing topics. We’re telling people what we’ve learned, but we’re not preaching that we have all the answers. We’re discovering together, and that’s what makes this whole thing so much fun.

Five Daily Habits That Can Help Aid Digestion Without Changing What You Eat

Changing you diet is hard, right?

This is a process that takes time. Eating scallops on a fresh bed of organic leaves, with an exotic coolie of immune boosting fruits and vegetables is not something most of us have time for, and it can be a little intimidating on day one of a big change.

That’s why I believe in small changes to habits which net a global positive impact on health.

If you’re still struggling to get your five a day, then that’s ok! No judgement here.

Remember, I’m somebody who has struggled all their life with food cravings and a crippling habit for junk food. I get it completely.

And besides, like I said, the best way to get into turning your diet around is to make incremental changes.

So, that got me to thinking. How do we positively improve digestion without changing anything about the core diet? Is it even possible?

Well, as always, I advocate for changes in diet as the fundamental basis for digestive health, especially in cases where food sensitivities may be present. That being said, I do believe that there are some things we can all do without upsetting the status quo, that can help support better digestive health.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at five changes which don’t uproot your lifestyle too much:

1. Drink More Water:

Some of you may be laughing in frog as this comes in as rule number one, but water is, in large part, what we’re made of. We’re approximately 50-60% water. We need lots of it for an array of vital metabolic processes, including digestion. If you can’t change anything else, try and carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go. When you’re sat down at work, on a walk, or going to school keep that bottle on your person. Wherever you are, even if you’re not able to kick some of the other drinks which might not be so healthy, adding water will help your gut health by assisting digestive enzymes in breaking down food. It’s actually the key ingredient, water, which allows enzymes to split molecules of food down into digestible chunks! Don’t underestimate it!

2. Take An Acid Supplement And Digestive Enzyme With Your Biggest Meal:

Those of us who are struggling with our digestion may not be producing enough enzymes and stomach acid to break food down properly. This is more important still when eating large meals, especially at the end of the day, when we actually have time to make something filling. Taking these digestive aids can ease inflammation by fighting the number of undigested particles which end up in the large intestine. This is where pathogens pounce, growing stronger and producing toxins which can breach the intestinal wall, create cellular damage in the body, and excite an irregular immune response.

3. Eat Fruit As A Snack:

I know this one sounds very straight forward (and possibly a little cheeky given the title of the article), but habits form through convenience. If you carry some fruit around with you, especially fruit that you enjoy eating and can access easily, you’re much less likely to slither over to the vending machine, lusting after forbidden snacks. Fruit is a better alternative to chocolate and sweets because it has natural vitamins, as well as fibre, which slows a sugar spike and feeds the good bacteria in your gut!

4. Meditate Once A Day:

As I mentioned in Meditation For Gut Health, your digestive system will thank you if you take a moment out of your busy, stressful day to breathe and relax. A stressed gut is a poor digester, and that will only contribute to undigested food reaching the large intestine, where nasty little bacteria and yeasts feast at our expense. Remember, we’re looking at what we can do without an entire diet overhaul, and ten minutes out of your day to breathe and relax the body can contribute to better gut health.

5. Get Your Shoes On And Go For A Walk:

Exercise encourages the good bacteria in the gut to produce butyrate, an extremely important biological molecule, which can help seal a compromised gut lining. The more butyrate your body is able to produce, the better your gut is able to seal itself and prevent bacterial toxins and undigested food from entering the blood stream. When this happens, we see a range of autoimmune reactions, and in the long term, multi-organ degeneration and chronic disease. A 30 minute walk during the day should help your body make more of this substance and help fight leaky gut! What’s not to like? Time to tie those laces and hit the tarmac!

Remember, everything we’re trying to do is fostering small changes for wider net benefit. Maybe you could try out one or two of these things, maybe you’ll want to do all of them! Whatever your decide, know that this is a process which takes time. Habits form when they’re sustainable, so I hope some of these are sustainable enough for you to have a go at in your day to day life, without rocking the boat too much.

Drink your water and step outside in the sun, let’s get this butyrate!

J

Students, You Should Get More Dietary Support At University

After living as a student for the typical three years in the UK, I KNOW for a fact that only the most minor fraction of students eat a healthy balanced diet.

Throw in copious amounts of alcohol, poor sleep, too much coffee (though coffee should not be seen as the enemy of digestive health) and stressful deadlines/ social engagements, and you have a recipe for DISASTER.

All of these factors have been shown to impact digestive health massively, and universities do absolutely nothing to support this process.

Many of you savvy readers may have heard of the gut-brain axis, how the state of your gut reflects the state of your mind. Depression is more and more seen as an issue of systemic inflammation in the body, which naturally impacts the brain (we should never think of the brain and the body as separate entities, they are very much reliant on, and influenced by, each other).

Students are the highest risk factor group in society for mental health issues, ranging from depression and anxiety most commonly, all the way to schizophrenia and bipolar less often.

In my mind, it doesn’t take a genius to pull the chords of connection together.

Students, having some of the most unhealthy lifestyles of any group in society, are suffering a mental health crisis because universities do not do enough to support their digestive health.

What blows my mind, having known that these places claim to be the epicentres of enlightenment, the pinnacles of intelligent discovery, is that there is still no self-reflective awareness of the impact of this stressful student lifestyle on student mental and physical health.

This is a tragedy which has lasting ramifications.

Though I am a firm believer in the power of the gut to heal itself under the right conditions, I also know that this is a process that can take YEARS. People can be set back whole periods of their life just because they are not being properly supported by their institution.

What is more, not everyone’s digestive health is equal. Some people make it through unscathed, others are brought to their knees. Those who already experienced mental illness before university, those who have neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism, and those with autoimmune disorders need even more care during this stressful time. I don’t think it’s fair that those who start out with poor digestive health should end up paying for that more than those who are resilient.

We need to be acknowledging this crisis and should be providing health workshops for university students. Showing them the tips and tricks which can bring health back into their lives, but won’t burn a hole in their wallet (we know you’re on a tight budget). Exams need to be arranged to avoid unreasonable stresses and allow good sleep. Controversially perhaps, I think freshers week is a disaster. Alcohol promotion gone wild. Stop pushing alcohol on young people who’s gut flora are more sensitive (studies are beginning to demonstrate that gut flora becomes more stable as you age, but may still be easily influenced in young people). Instead, foster a community where people can talk and play games together, even eat or cook a healthy meal together. This emphasis on booze is a catastrophe for students and irresponsible of learned institutions.

I spent three years at university and on reflection, I let the stress of this lifestyle damage my mental and physical health massively. Looking back on it, there was very little support and I had a sensitive constitution to begin with. I really suffered. My health deteriorated to such a point that by third year I had to move back in with my parents and drive to university for lectures and seminars. I was a wreck.

Students, don’t blame yourselves for your depression, anxiety or struggles with university. This is a very unnatural environment which puts multi-pronged stressors on your body. You are going to feel the impact of that, especially if you have a sensitive constitution. Instead, empower yourself and others to heal the damage, by learning which foods you can and cannot tolerate, and affording yourself the rest and relaxation needed for recovery.

I know I felt very alone in that environment and I could sense something wasn’t quite right, but it’s hard to put your finger on it when you’re in it.

I’m rooting for you and I hope this post makes you feel a bit more normal in a really strange place.

Please also like, comment and subscribe to heathen.life in the right top hand corner for more healthful information.

Keep well and learn to nourish your body.

J

How Your Nose Can Be A Window Into Your Digestive Health

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had acne.

Many people experience this in their teens, but the unfortunate few will continue to experience this problem into their adult lives.

I am one of the unfortunate few.

I was confused too. Yes, I was a chubby child and weight can contribute, but I spent a good few years of my adult life at a relatively healthy weight range. The acne persisted!

I was always aware that my nose was constantly inflamed, always red and sometimes blistered with acne. Some days I would wake up and my face hurt so badly I could barely move it.

And when I went to the source of authority, the doctor, they just blamed a genetic predisposition to excess sebum production (sebum is a natural oil that the body makes and excretes through the skin). I left with a sense of ‘there’s nothing you can do’ about the whole thing.

Still, that never really clicked with me. Something intuitive inside me had related diet to nose redness and acne. I noticed that when I drank alcohol I would experience severe flare ups in a few days, and I’d wake up from a hangover with skin that was far more oily than usual. If I went and binged on sugar or bought fast food, I’d experience the same thing. There was something going on. I knew that, but I couldn’t put the pieces together until much later.

So what does a red nose mean?

Primarily, it signals inflammation in the digestive tract and problems in the immune system. When the immune system completely fails, you get autoimmune diseases like lupus (often diagnosed by a rouge butterfly rash on the bridge of the nose and a bright red nose). Alcoholics who drink far too much end up with bright red noses, signalling liver failure. A red nose can also be a risk factor for heart disease.

What people don’t realise is that all of these issues are linked and they originate in the gut. Your skin is an incredibly complex organ which wants you to understand that there’s a problem. Signs like redness or acne indicate an internal problem, requiring an internal solution.

Please, if you take nothing else away from this article, believe that your skin issues can be reduced significantly by tackling your digestive issues.

I want to show you how my own nose has improved after about a month of eating less inflammatory foods, intermittent fasting, drinking kefir and making sure to hydrate regularly.

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[ABOVE] One month ago, eating a standard diet with lots of preservatives and carbs, as well as milk products. Notice the typical blotchy effect on the nose, which has begun to spread further out across the bridge of the nose. 

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[ABOVE] A photo from today, following a much cleaner diet with wholefoods, no dairy, kefir and lots of water. Notice, the nose is no longer blotchy, there is a smoother appearance and less red/ purple discolouration. 

As you can see, we have definite improvement! I don’t recommend massive changes, but small incremental ones which can impact overall health. I make sure to test these things on myself before recommending them, because I want to make sure that the facts are really verifiable. The diet industry is full of misinformation.

You will, of course, experience some setbacks. Your body will occasionally react to something and you may see a flare up, but if the bottom image is your general state, give or take a few flare ups here and there, you’re moving towards better digestive health.

And though this is a blog for sharing information about better health, it is also a place to share my own progress on this journey. I was so hopeless and depressed when I began. I couldn’t see a way back. I thought my life was going to be a slow and steady decline in health, filled with more and more miserable doctor’s appointments. I couldn’t carry on like that, so I am really proud of myself for taking a step in the right direction. Reading, researching and sharing with my subscribers keeps me on the right track and hopefully helps you figure out your way too. That’s really all I can hope for. Let’s keep going together!

I hope you’re all staying well during this time and feeding yourself good, nutritional foods that support your overall health.

Have you experienced any similar skin improvements when changing your diet? Post your before and after pictures below, I’d love to see them!

Please like, comment and subscribe to Heathen.life for more health and well-being information and keep yourself on the road to recovery!

 

Three Common Ideas In Keto, Paleo and Vegan Diets That Actually Promote Total Health

If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly searching for the latest information and breakthroughs in the world of health. You’re searching because you’ve been affected by any number of setbacks which you’ve pinned down to your diet. You’re an intelligent person. You know that research can put you ahead of the curve and pull you out of your own physical and mental obstacles. 

Diet is a key pillar of overall health, along with the other basics, so you know it’s important to nail right? But it’s stressful! We are constantly bombarded by information, most of it bad, some of it ineffective, if not harmful, and yet fewer golden nuggets, truth bombs which work every time. 

Now, I won’t claim to have all the golden pieces. But, I can tell you that I’ve sifted a lot of dietary information. The perks of being something of a hypochondriac will drive you to rinse the medical literature for answers. I’m not proud of that weakness, but it’s something that improves every day my health does. 

Nevertheless, after sifting through that information and the prevailing popular diets of our era, there do appear to be some rules which apply across these very different approaches that could be the key to better health REGARDLESS of how you want to approach it. With that in mind, let’s quickly blast through a few notable connections that you can remember when you’re choosing foods at home. 

1. No Artificial Products/ Focus On Wholefoods: 

It’s quite clear that serious paleo, keto and vegan dieters all share a profound aversion for artificial products. When I say artificial, we’re talking anything which has a list bigger than ONE food item, or, consists of less than FIVE items, all of which you can reasonably understand the origins of. For example, all whole foods are just one item in their ingredient list. Items which might have more than one ingredient, but could still be very healthy are things like organic breads and maybe even some cheeses which are combined with dried fruits etc. If you don’t understand the ingredient as a wholefood in itself, DON’T buy it. Generally, the more complex the list, the less healthful the product! 

2. Focus On Organic Produce: 

Again, all three of these diets ask you to look at what organic produce you can buy. Organic foods tend to have less hormones, antibiotic, pesticides and genetic modification than their commercial counterparts. These added poisons can be hard to remove and can hurt the healing process. 

3. Focus On Healthy Fats:

Keto and Paleo encourage fatty cuts of meat so that your body can absorb the healthy omega 3 and 6 unsaturated fats. Vegan diets focus on a lot of coconut oil, avocado and olive, as well as a push towards naturally fatty products like avocados. These healthy fats really contribute to healing the gut lining by providing the body with the building blocks it needs to heal. Remember, a huge portion of the body is made from fat, the brain is almost entirely fat! 

That’s three connections across these prevailing big boys of the dieting world. If you are finding it tough to follow any one diet, avoiding multi ingredient foods, trying to eat more organic produce and getting more of your nourishment from saturated fats may help your digestion improve without the need for strict adherence to any one of the three.

The whole point of this blog is about demystifying the dieting world for my subscribers. I love to find patterns and trends which can act as hacks for better health! 

Let’s see what we can find!

J