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Taking care of yourself should optimally include the following
Some people require the addition of vitamins and other substances in food supplements. These can be fairly inexpensive
to very expensive and could make a difference, even starting today, to how you manage your resistance to infection, supporting energy and sleep levels, during the pre-exam and exam seasons, any time of stress, or just as part of your regular regime.
If you are buying folic
acid tablets, for example, buy Folic Acid BP ~ much cheaper than branded versions. Always ask for a generic brand of any
supplement or vitamin you choose to buy.
As with every product, check
the contents to see what percentage of what you want is included, and what percentage is filler. See below for folic acid rich foods.
BOOST YOUR IMMUNE
SYSTEM & CARE FOR YOUR MIND & BODY
GARLIC ~ Research
has found that people who eat fresh garlic are two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. This is because it contains allicin, which fights infection. Odour-free garlic products are available; I do not know
if they are equally beneficial. The potent sulphur compound in garlic, allicin, is responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of this plant. You can increase the activity of allicin by letting garlic sit for about 10 minutes after crushing or chopping it before adding to ingredients or heating it. Add
the garlic towards the end of cooking to retain nutrients.
MUSHROOMS ~ Many modern medicines come from fungal extracts. Mushrooms contain Vitamin D, and are great at combating viruses. They are also a handy source of Vitamin B12, an essential Vitamin which helps with mending cells and with eye care, especially in relation to the maintenance of the essential eye mucous. Vitamin B12, other than in mushrooms, is difficult to source in ordinary food.
Ordinary white button mushrooms, brown caps, large flats, or breakfast mushrooms, are all good sources of Vitamin B12. Don't imagine you need to spend a lot on special, expensive, mushrooms
for your Vitamin B12 requirements.
Without sufficient Vitamin D, your body’s T-cells
lie dormant, and these are what help fight infections.
Mushrooms also have powerful
bioactive components that reduce inflammation. Try a stir-fry dish, including a choice of mushroom varieties plus, maybe, some maitake, enoki, or oyster mushrooms.
Recent research has shown the many health benefits of Maitake mushrooms, including their ability to boost the immune system. This is due to maitake’s beta glucan content. Beta glucane is a complex sugar that activates and
increases the activity of the immune system to help the body fight illness more quickly and efficiently. Studies show that beta glucan may also trigger cancer fighting cells, possibly making
chemotherapy more effective.
In addition, maitake mushrooms
have been SHOWN to decrease the negative side effects of anti-cancer drugs, including nausea, vomiting, and hair loss, when consumed
mushrooms have a somewhat sweet flavour, and are frequently used in soups and dishes like nabe and sukiyaki. Similar to the shiitake mushroom, enoki mushrooms are low in calories,
low in fat, and sugar free. In addition, like other mushrooms, enoki is high in B Vitamins; it’s particularly rich in niacin, which helps support adrenal
functions and is necessary for metabolism. In a single cup serving, enoki mushrooms offer 23% of the daily recommended value of niacin. This can help reduce the potential for heart disease and may be
useful in preventing second heart attacks in those who are at risk.
The Eryngii (King Oyster) mushroom is the largest species of the oyster mushrooms. It has a thick white stem and a meaty texture and can be thickly sliced and grilled like steak. Eryngii has naturally occurring antioxidants, including the amino acid ergothioneine, which protects the body’s cells against free radicals (harmful
damaged cells), thus reducing the risk of chronic disease. Ergothioneine, an antioxidant found in eryngii mushrooms, is not reduced by cooking. Eryngii also contain a
disease fighting compound called Lovastatin, which helps clear cholesterol from the body’s circulatory system, improving blood flow. They also contain significant amounts of zinc,
iron, potassium, phosphorus, and folic acid. They're an excellent source of the essential mineral selenium, and easier to absorb than the inorganic selenium typically found in dietary supplements.
GRAPES ~ Grapes have one of the highest antioxidant
levels of all fruit. These antioxidants are largely concentrated in the skin. Anti-inflammatory properties of grape
skin have been demonstrated. Grapes have also shown to have anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-allergic activity. Freeze them and use them in place of ice cubes. Add them to all your salads. Add them in the last few minutes of cooking to any sauce for sweet bursts of flavour.
DILLISK ~ is a seaweed found spread widely in the oceans of the
world. The Dillisk I get comes from the West Coast of Ireland, and is about as pure as one could get. Dillisk contains astonishingly high levels of B12, plus calcium, and other
vital trace elements. It is very beneficial in reducing inflamation. I go to Wild Atlantic Seagarden <firstname.lastname@example.org> for my information
on the many benefits of the numerous, various, seaweeds.
CARE FOR YOUR EYES ~ for further information on eye care please see my Post, Beware the Light!!
CINNAMON ~ A generous sprinkle of cinnamon will help expel toxins from the body. It is antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal: A TRIPLE SHIELD against illness. Some people cannot bear the taste
of cinnamon, so try adding a couple of spoonfuls regularly to curries or to robust, well-flavoured casseroles full of herbs and vegetables, or other strong tasting dishes.
FOLIC ACID ~ Spinach is rich in folic acid, a key ingredient for repairing cells, this SUPER-FOOD is also a great source of Potassium and Vitamin
C, which help keep you healthy. Young spinach leaves are very good in a salad, and you are retaining all the vitamins.
Kale, and other cruciferous vegetables should be consumed at least five times a week because they are rich in sulphoraphane, which helps eliminate harmful toxic
compounds in the body that might otherwise promote inflammation. Kale stands out among this stellar group, because it is one of the
most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. Try kale in salads, smoothies, soups, casseroles, and stews. Mix it into pasta dishes and into casseroles and stews, near the end of cooking, well chopped and well mixed in. Bake them
in the oven to make kale crisps.
Also, incorporate other cruciferous
(brassica oleracea) vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts into your diet. These vegetables are related to each other and are all rich in folic acid.
The shorthand version is green leaf vegetables all contain folic acid, these include rocket and other salad
There is an increased risk of the
foetus developing a serious birth defect, known as a neural tube defect, if the mother has a poor folic acid intake before and during pregnancy. The neural tube is a narrow channel that eventually forms
the brain and spinal cord.
Examples of neural tube defects include:
Spina Bifida – where the baby's spine does not develop properly;
Anencephaly – where a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull;
Encephalocele – where
a membrane or skin-covered sac containing part of the brain pushes out of a hole in the skull.
Please go to the following site, from which I quoted above on neural tube defects, for further information on infertility due to a lack of folic acid in the diet and other matters
VITAMIN C ~ Taking
a high dose of Vitamin C could help shorten a cold if you take it at the first sign of symptoms. It is not just found in citrus fruit, but in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. It could also cut your risk of the common cold in the first place. However, a good diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, or those speedily frozen from picking, is an excellent source of all
the vitamins and trace elements we require.
Most vitamin supplements will not give
you the essential trace elements found in fresh fruit and vegetables or quickly frozen vegetables and fruit.
MAGNESIUM ~ Taking Magnesium daily helps to regulate your sleep patterns and is helpful in keeping mental well-being in balance. Any time of stress can cause some people to lose control of their sleep regime, starting to worry, and thus beginning a cycle of
poor sleep. Start a Magnesium supplement now and and it will help in the coming weeks and, indeed, years. Some of us cannot uptake Magnesium from our food and need extra support.
Prepared products containing mixes of various vitamins and supplements
are usually expensive and often do not contain sufficient of any of the ingredients listed to have a specific effective impact. A judicious selection
of the basics would be much less expensive and have more impact.
BANANAS ~ Using bananas as your snack of choice while having a break during study, research, tutoring other
students, gives you a supply of trace elements not found in any other fruit or vegetable. They are very easy on the digestive tract, and if you add a dribble
of honey now and then, between them they will keep your gut active and calm, and help reduce gastric upsets which are common at times of stress. Unripe bananas have a higher starch
content. As they ripen, the starch is converted to sugar (and the fruit becomes sweeter).
Green bananas are also a good source of pectin, which is a type of dietary fibre found in fruits and helps them keep their structural form. Pectin breaks down when a banana becomes overripe, which causes the fruit to become
Bananas are loaded with valuable micro-nutrients, especially potassium. Potassium
is one of the most important electrolytes in the body, helping to regulate heart function as well as fluid balance – a key factor in regulating blood pressure. The effectiveness of potassium-rich foods such as bananas, in lowering blood pressure and protecting against heart disease and strokes is well accepted and bolstered by considerable scientific evidence.
Bananas are soothing to the gastrointestinal tract due to their high content of pectin – as soluble fibre that not only lowers cholesterol but normalises bowel function. The high fibre content of bananas promote
satiety (feeling of fullness). However, as a tropical fruit, bananas are higher in sugar and aren’t a great choice for diabetics. The resistant starch in bananas also has a prebiotic effect, helping
to keep gut bacteria happy by increasing the production of short chain fatty acids for digestive health.
HERBS & OILS ~ Echinacea and Pelargonium herbs are
both immunity super-boosters, and can help reduce the number of colds you get if you take them throughout the cold season. These are available in various sources from capsules to powders. Echinacea is a vital source of Omega 3, 6, and 9, especially for vegetarians and vegans, as it is plant derived, rather than the usual fish oil sources, and so there is no after-taste of fish.
However, halibut and cod liver oil capsules are excellent value, and easily available sources of Omegas. A regular fish
element in your diet, two or three times a week, would give you all the Omega you require, and it is low in cholesterol. Less expensive fish rather than the usual salmon,
sea trout, cod, and tuna, are equally beneficial nutritionally. Some may be lacking the flavour of the above mentioned species, but that can be helped by using a strongly flavoured marinade of dried chilli,
garlic, mustard seeds or powder, or whatever you like, plus a tablespoon of rape seed oil, either all mixed in a blender or in a pestle and mortar. Add more oil if required to coat the fish well.
Go to a real fishmonger and ask for advice on what types
of fish stay together if sealed on the pan and added to a casserole; which ones fall apart easily if fried; which can be added straight to a sauce or casserole without requiring sealing first. Also, ask for fish carcasses which you let simmer very gently in a pot of water from cold, along with a couple of yellow or brown skin onions cut in quarters,
with the skin left on (the skins give a rich colour to your fish stock / liquor), a bay leaf or two, and a good pinch of salt.
When your onions have come apart and the flesh comes away from the fish bones is in the water, your liquor is cooked.
Adding your fried-off and sealed fish chunks to a gently simmering casserole near the end of cooking process gives it a great
lift and helps the fish keep moist. Please don't use olive oil for frying fish, it burns at too low a temperature; stick with corn oil or preferably organic rapeseed oil.
As soon as you have strained your fish carcass, wrap all the leftovers, including
onion pieces, in newspaper and add to your composting bin or waste bin, according to your local rules.
You really want to get the fish detritus out of the kitchen promptly, at any time of year. Your fish liquor can be reduced to the quantity you require for the liquid in your soup, chowder, sauce, or casserole.
Tins of sardines in olive or sunflower oil can be kept in the larder for a good while, always available for breakfast on toast, lunch, or supper. Rich in Omega 3, this is a very good value, very handy source, especially
for those living alone, or snacking while studying.
PLEASE consider where your fish is SOURCED. I would never buy fish taken from the Irish Sea, for example, as it is described as a 'sewer' by
marine biologists, given its contributions from the nuclear power plant, Sellafield, in Britain, and the untreated sewage pumped out of Irish towns and
cities along the coast.
HUMIDITY ~ Normally, tiny hairs in your lungs waft germs and mucus into your throat, where you clear them by swallowing. But very cold air slows
this movement, giving viruses longer to take hold in your lungs and cause an infection.
FEW can invest in humidifiers! So, I suggest keeping containers of water (changing the water daily) beside every heater, radiator, or heat source, in your home. Keeping humidity levels between 40-60%
using a humidifier reduces the period viruses survive in the air, and keeps your respiratory system warm and moist. Now, the system I suggest is clearly not so scientifically accurate, but it will help. If you added essential oils of lemon, sweet orange, bergamot or lime to the water, the atmosphere should be more relaxing and uplifting. Be careful that the water containers are safe from
being knocked over, and should never be put near electric heat sources.
PORRIDGE ~ Trinity
College Dublin has recently come out with even more good news on the benefits of porridge. We already know a bowl of porridge for breakfast reduces random, unhealthy, snacking, it
fills one until lunchtime; it is very good for the skin; and now we hear that the active parts of the oatmeal work to breakdown cholesterol
build-up, and plague build-up in blood vessels. It assists in weight loss; and of course it is a
very good value food ~ considerably better for us than the processed breakfast cereals claiming to contain seeds and fruit which are hugely more expensive, with their frequently added sugar / sugar-types and
salt. Please don't soak your porridge oats overnight, to speed up cooking in the morning, as this reduces some of the benefits of the oats. We can add our own, in season, fresh fruit, as we like!
For example, LINSEED (flaxseed) cannot be digested by the human system as the coating is too dense for our digestive juices. Also, bought milled linseed is of little value, except
maybe as a very expensive contribution to roughage consumption. Linseed is very rich in Omega, and should be milled as one has one's breakfast or whenever one plans to use it, as it loses it nutritional value within twenty minutes after milling.
LENTILS, BEANS, PEAS, etc ~
Lentils, chickpeas, beans, and split peas of all sizes and colours are an excellent, very inexpensive source of protein, which comes without the bad cholesterol of meat.
I have found the best way for me
to have a good, readily available, mix of varied lentils, beans, and their friends, is to put the largest dried ones you have soaking overnight in cold water, this definitely includes chickpeas which, I think along
with cockroaches, will be the only survivors of the nuclear holocaust!
Packets of dried lentils,
beans, etc, are much cheaper than the tinned varieties (and the tinned ones frequently get mushy very fast when added to a dish one is cooking). The next day when you have
time to spend checking on the saucepan, you can build up a wide-ranging collection of cooked protein.
Having rinsed them from their soaking water, add the largest, toughest, lentils, or beans to unsalted, gently boiling, water to which you have
added a good dash of olive oil or rape seed oil; chickpeas go in first, alone, for ages. Don't put the lid on, and stir regularly. As the larger ones soften, add the smaller beans and lentils, etc, down to the tiny ones at the end, keeping an eye on the water level all the
to end up with enough water so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the saucepan, but not too much because you will be reducing the liquid quotient as much as possible at the end of the cooking process. When you are happy everything is
heading to nearly cooked keep an eye on the saucepan as you wish to reduce the liquid level to a loose coating of the lentils, beans, peas, etc. Then turn off the heat, put the lid on the pan, and let the
You will need some of those 1 litre and / or 3 litre ziplock type
freezer food bags. When your lentil / bean etc mixture is cold, spoon it into your ziplock bag with a table spoon, having folded back the opening of the bag by one-third so that the zip closure remains clear of your mix; lay the half-filled bag on a
cutting board, and flatten the mixture as thin as you can get it, squeezing it into the corners, expelling any air, and then closing the zip.
Fills as many bags as you have mixture, and when they are all flat as boards, put them in the freezer, on the cutting board, to harden.
Mark the bags previously, with indelible marker before filling them, and let the ink dry; mark as 'mixed cooked lentils, beans, peas, etc', and add the date.
We all think we'll remember what's in freezer bags, but we don't 95% of the time. Most bags of frozen something look like asteroids.
Because you've added oil to your cooking mix, it will be easy to break off chunks of frozen lentil
/ bean / split pea mixture, to add to any dish you are cooking. If you are planning a stir-fry, break off your lentil mixture the night before and put in a bowl in the 'fridge to defrost.
It's like breaking chunks off a slab of chocolate! You've done the work, and can feel suitably virtuous.
Even if you are cooking a meat based stew or casserole, adding some of your lentil / bean mixture adds to the protein level and the roughage content.
Just remember to keep all your lentils, beans and split peas, etc, in airtight jars. Please cut
the name of the lentil, etc, off the packing or bag, plus any particular cooking instructions you think would be useful, and put those in the jar facing
out, followed by filling the jar to keep the labels in place; we think we'll remember which is which, but we don't!
Empty mayonnaise, instant coffee, pickle, and jam jars are all great for storage. Sterilize jars and lids before use in a diswasher or in a pot of rolling boiling water for 10 minutes minimum,
after washing well. Let them dry fully on a sunny window sill, not in the oven. Plactic lids don't survive that second sterilizing option!
TEN ESSENTIAL SKINCARE RULES
A good skincare routine doesn’t just help keep skin problems at bay, it can also gives you healthy, fresh, glowing, skin.
From cleansing basics to your diet, here are some useful skincare
tips to keep your skin in good condition. This isn't about vanity, a bright, fresh face, gives one confidence, making one more approachable in all kinds of situations - college, work, clubs.
1. Eat a balanced
diet. A healthy diet packed with fresh, in season, fruit and vegetables, with essential vitamins and minerals, will enhance your complexion from the inside out. Drinks lots and lots
of water, 2-3 litres minimum daily.
2. Don’t use too much rich moisturiser. All skin types need moisturiser, but rich,
heavy, creams can sit on the skin’s surface and block pores. It is also a waste of cream! Use easily absorbed creams and lotions, or water-based products for oily or combination skin. Don't stop moisturising at the jaw line, for young men and women, go down your throat and to your décoletage. The skin there is very fragile as it produces less oil than the face, and needs attention from a young age. Do moisturise your body
regularly after showering - it helps keep the skin elastic, and reduces severity of scrapes and nicks, which might be experienced during
matches, games, or trekking.
3. Don’t ignore your skin type. If you have oily, sensitive, combination, or dry skin, tailor your routine
to your skin’s needs and choose specially designed products. Pure, distilled, rose water is a very inexpensive, gentle toner and light moisturiser, and dribbled on your hair, it makes a great conditioner. If you are inclined to break out in spots, old-fashioned, very inexpensive, Witch Hazel is good for drying out spots, without you ending up with sore and very dry, tight-feeling, skin. Squeaky clean skin is over-cleaned!
You should try to avoid the products that promise fast and forever cures. The idea that oily or combination
skins are able to take more abuse from products is nonsense. Oily and combination skins are just as sensitive as any type. Please be kind to your skin!
4. Take care in the sun. Wear a hat to protect your hair, or alternatively one of those leave-in conditioners that promise to screen hair from UV (ultra-violet rays), protecting
colour, and shine. The sun’s (UV) rays are the main cause of skin ageing and cause skin cancer.
Most sun skin damage resulting in cancer happens in the first few years of life.
and young children need to be protected from head to toe. If you’re out in the sun at any time of year, protect your skin with a minimum SPF15. Fair, pale, freckled, Irish, Celtic skin-types may need SPF50 protection Winter and Summer.
If your Dermatologist has advised a SPF50 strength sun block all year round, ensure you take a Vitamin D supplement, as we get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight.
The Australians take a very serious and sensible attitude to skin cancer prevention. It is the commonest form of cancer in Ireland. Don't think because you have dark skin it doesn't need protection, it does.
5. Do Not Smoke. Smoking may lower the elasticity
of the skin by causing the breakdown of collagen. It’s also thought to reduce blood flow to the skin so it gets fewer nutrients and less oxygen. It causes early wrinkles around the eyes and the mouth. The skin looks
grey and tired, with no glow. It's easy to tell a smoker of some duration by the lack of glow. When one gets closer, the smell of nicotine from the hair and clothing tells the tale.
6. Don’t wear make-up to bed. Leaving make-up on your skin can clog your pores leading to breakouts, so use a make-up remover before cleansing every night.
7. Cleanse your face properly. Avoid soaps, and stick to soap-free washes or cream cleansers; wash dirt, oil, and make-up, from your face every night before bed. Rinse
off your cleanser using tepid water while massaging your skin gently in a circular movement with a soft facecloth or muslin square, to improve circulation and remove dead skin. Use a clean cloth every day.
have a Laundry Bucket on the go, into which goes the daily face cloth, muslin square, kitchen scrubbies, pillow slips - which should be changed two to three times a week - (you do want to sleep on clean linen),
dish cloths, and kitchen towels - they are all added to a mix of non-bio detergent, a good slosh of Dettol or Savlon, and a few of kettles of boiling water. I give it a stir every day or so, adding more boiling water as required - it keeps
going for a week, and when a hot white wash is going on - sheets, towels, table napkins, linen, etc, the contents of the Bucket go in the washing machine also. The antiseptic helps to sterilize the contents, and also to maintain a good, clean, smell from the Bucket.]
don’t pick pimples or blackheads. Bursting or squeezing spots can cause infection or scarring. Instead, use acne or blemish creams, gels or lotions, to combat spots. Good old-fashioned Sudacream is great at curing spots quickly. Ask your pharmacist for advice. All skin needs moisturising. Use a water-based
moisturising cream, which will help keep excess oil at bay.
9. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect
which can lead to tired looking skin, and causes small blood vessels to burst in the cheeks and around the nose, and they start leaving tiny red webs.
at least once a week. Use it around your mouth and on your lips too, massaging gently, to give soft, smooth, lips. It unclogs pores, helps prevent blackheads, and removes dead skin cells for fresh, radiant, skin. Always close
the pores afterwards with cool water. Really cold water can cause damage to the skin. If you live in a city, two light face packs a week may be
required. Look at the colour of your cotton wool after the first round of cleansing to tell you how dirty the ambient air is!
If you are using one of those good quality Argile clay face packs, please don't let the face pack dry completely
because removing it can involve using facial scrubs, and you might end up with a sore, sensitive, face.
The above information is based on my own Montessori Training including nutrition and general healthcare; https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/nutrition/top-15-anti-inflammatory-foods/; my
keen interest in good quality, good value food; the Health Section of the 'Sunday Times Magazine'; https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-bananas;
the Holland & Barrett website; plus advice from a Local Authority Dietitian regarding stress management, and continuous reading of up-to-date research.