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Cope With The Aging Effects Of Stress

Experiencing high levels of stress can make you age prematurely. You probably know at least a few individuals who have experienced what they imagine to be highly stressful events – maybe a divorce, the loss of a loved one, a reduction in income, debt or the discovery of a serious health issue – that has accelerated their ageing processes quite rapidly.

I remember a young man who found out that his mother had metastatic cancer. Within a few weeks he began growing a patch of white hair. It was quite amazing how quickly he went grey. I watched a 20-year-old girl find out she was pregnant, without knowing who the father was, and saw how she felt the pressure of the social and financial implications.

Experiencing high levels of stress can make you prematurely age. But there are a few sensible actions you can take to cope.

So what can you do if you find yourself experiencing circumstances that feel emotionally distressing? Having a close friend or a professional to communicate with would be ideal. Meditation and stilling your mind to enable your inner solutions to arise can also assist. Exercising to channel off some extra tension will maybe assist temporarily. Making sure you eat quality, nutritious food during such times is certainly wise. Also, ask yourself how your perceived stressful situation could serve or benefit you now and in the future?

To perceive only the negative side of the emotional equation and not even attempt to search for the accompanying positive side can further exacerbate the stress and keep you forever bound to the source of your stress.

Balancing the equation can help dissolve this concentrated stress. A balanced mind – and seeing the positive side of things – offers the solution. Ask yourself what the drawbacks would be if this emotionally stressful event had not occurred? Sometimes we assume that our life would have been much
better if things would have turned out differently.

Sometimes people compare their present realities to falsely optimistic fantasies. Having unrealistic expectations about the world or yourself can add to your stress perceptions when life doesn’t match your ideal fantasy. Be sure your life expectations are balanced and realistic. Life offers a balance. One-sided events don’t occur.

Since many stressful situations involve personal interactions with others, it’s wise to ask where and when you have participated in such an interaction with someone else who perceived you as being the source of their stress. This question can humble you and make you think twice about unwisely judging others, since a lot of stress involves exaggerated judgments about others. Self-reflection is wise and honest introspection often reveals humbling histories. When you become reflective your expectations often become more realistic.

If someone is criticising or rejecting you, ask yourself where someone is simultaneously praising or accepting you, although maybe not within the same location. This takes deep introspection, but it is worth it. A great discovery is revealed when you take the time to honestly probe the initially unseen world that balances every event.

5 Health & Fitness Trends for South Africa in 2016

The health and fitness industry goes through phases & trends. One minute a certain diet or workout is hip, and the next minute it’s something completely different. Sometimes it's hard to stay up-to-date with what’s happening and what’s hot, here are five health and fitness trends for 2016.

 

1. HIIT vs Split Routines

HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been around for a long time but died down when the “competing frenzy” hit South Africa and everyone thought in order to get results, splitting ones routine into cardio & weight lifting was the way to go. This mentality got carried over from the “competing preparation” to how programs were structured for everyday individuals wanting to get into great shape.

For most people nowadays, it has become very obvious that unless you are training to compete on stage or for a specific sport, no one has the time, energy, patience and boredom level to maintain 2 sessions a day, along with the all the other elements of one's life. We are back where we started, wanting great results while using the small amount of time we have available in the most efficient and effective way we can, hence HIIT.

It’s all about mixing it up, fusing different styles and techniques, and working at a higher intensity over a shorter period of time. As important as isolation work is, so is dynamic and functional exercise. When one combines all these elements with bursts of cardio activities, you have an effective workout that targets a wide spectrum of fitness to include balance, mobility, flexibility, agility & endurance.

 

2. Outdoor/Home Training vs Gym Training

More and more activities like Parkour, street workouts, trail runs, home (backyard) workouts, and even surfing are back on the radar! This is probably due to the fact that they are done in the beautiful outdoors (which South Africa has) while enjoying amazing weather (which South Africa also has, especially this time of year). It is much more stimulating for the brain, due to the fresh air and open surroundings, and it is a huge time saver!

As effective as gyms are, especially when safety and weather is an issue, people no longer want to waste time driving in traffic, wait for parking, stand in a queue to get one's card swiped, and you haven’t even started your workout yet! Getting to the gym floor is whole other story and the queues just continue there. An hour workout turns into a 2hour frustration so one can understand why people are choosing to put on their trainers and run to the park for some pull ups and push ups in a fraction of the time.

There are also so many amazing programs out there that are functional and HIIT based and designed to be done either at home or outside. This results in an effective and efficient workout, gaining great results on all levels, and all while not wasting precious time (trend #1). I personally will always love the gym, because that is where my passion for fitness started, but I definitely enjoy the outdoor/home based workouts more and find them much more effective in terms of time and results.

 

3. Balanced Approach vs Extreme Behaviour

No one is denying that extreme diets produce results more quickly, and the results produced are more radical than that of a balanced approach. However, time and time (....and time) again it is proven that with an extreme approach there are extreme consequences (see trend #4 for more information).

For years now, people have started to change the word “diet” to "lifestyle", highlighting their acknowledgement that a “diet” should be a permanent way of living. But extreme behaviour is never a permanent solution. It can never be maintained, has long term side effects, has a failure rate double to that of the success rate, and the extreme results normally revert to a state of health that is much worse than what the individual started with. Although the “balanced approached” has been over used in the past, it is definitely holding more value, truth, and substance when being referred to now.

 

4. Eating/Training For Health vs Eating/Training For Weight-Loss

Many people go on a “diet” or training regimen with the primary focus being weight loss. Unfortunately, this is often done without giving much thought to the potential consequences extreme dieting and/or training can have on one's current and future health. Eating for weight loss has always been an enticing factor and still gets used in the marketing and selling of products and programs.

People are slowly realizing that as important as weight loss is for some circumstances (for example, obesity), it doesn’t really matter what the scale says if your cholesterol is still reading a 220mg/dL and your blood pressure is sitting at 180/120. The importance of numbers is shifting from the scale to health readings. We are becoming more aware of our blood pressure, heart rate, sugar levels, and cholesterol. These are the numbers that need to drop and as a consequence, the weight will drop as well.

A number that is also getting attention, is metabolic age! Basically, we want our bodies to be younger than our actual age. This can only be achieved through optimum well-being, which does not involve extreme behaviour of any kind. For example, too little exercise is bad for you, just as too much exercise can give premature aging. Too much fat is bad for you, just as too little fat can bring about premature aging. Bottom line, we come back to trend #2 above, which is a balanced approach. There is no point in being a size 2, with zero body fat, and having the face of a fifty year old when you are barely in your mid thirties. Eating and training for health is a key trend for 2016 as people start to consider how they will look and feel in terms of age and not just size.

 

5. Going Green vs Going Red

This is a Health & Fitness Trend for 2016 that I feel the most strongly about, and it is a trend that has grown the most momentum over the past year. Think of “Meatless Mondays” or “Green Mondays” which has most people becoming more aware of what they are eating and why. The facts are staggering how beneficial a plant-based diet is versus a meat-heavy diet. Although the intention is not to turn the world vegan, it is about making people conscious of what they are really putting into their mouths and the effects it has on their body and environment.

Recently the WHO (World Health Organisation) concluded that excessive consumption of processed and red meat can result in cancer. This has validated the facts that green is better! Going green not only has a much smaller carbon foot print, it also has amazing effects on one’s health, it slows down the aging process, and it has proven results of steady, healthy and sustainable weight loss.

Going green also has an emotional drive behind it where people are showing more compassion towards animals, how they are bred and how they are treated before landing on our plates. No one can ignore the videos of animal abuse & slaughter houses circulating the internet nowadays. The thought of eating an animal that has been raised in disgusting environments and put through horrendous pain and suffering really has forced most people to stop and think before taking a bite out of that piece of flesh.

Going green has also shifted to how we train. We are becoming more conscious about using less motorized equipment in air-conditioned gyms, to rather training using our own body weight in a natural setting. Green is the new black!

Nedbank Green Wine Awards – Honouring Producers Who Conserve The Winelands

A substantial number of Cape producers continue to lead the way globally, actively conserving part of their land and minimising their agricultural footprint while making enjoyable – and often impressive wines. The organic route is part of this choice and forms a category in the Nedbank Green Wine Awards. Other categories include the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) guidelines and the Best Farming Practices which assesses and rewards those who are responding to environmental challenges in meaningful and successful ways.

Since its inception in 2009, the main thrust of the Nedbank Green Wine Awards has been to reward and elevate the quality of wines made from organically grown grapes, honouring those wine producers that put our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet first. A total of 150 wines were judged across two categories (Best wines made from Organically Grown Grapes and Best Wines from Integrated Production of Wine category), the panel led by internationally renowned wine judge Fiona McDonald.

Aside from the wines, the Best Farming Practice category remains a key part of the competition and continues to promote sustainable farming and conservation of the Cape winelands.This year saw a change to the award of Best Farming Practice to a nominated award. The award for Best Farming Practice was bestowed upon a farm that has been voted as the winner by their fellow peers, through a nomination and motivation process.

 

GLG

 

Fifteen top achievers were announced at this year’s awards function held on the 15th October in Cape Town (*see winners list below). Org De Rac La Verne MCC 2012 took top honours in the Best Wine Overall in the Made from Organically Grown Grapes category (the wine was also the Bloggers’ Choice Award). Sijnn White 2013 scooped the Best Integrated Production of Wine Overall (the wine was also the IPW Best White). Wildekrans was named the Best Farming Practices Overall Winner.

The full results and a competition overview are available in South Africa’s Green Wine Guide 2015, bagged with the November issue of Getaway, which is on sale from 19 October. Results are also available at greenwineawards.com.

Wine enthusiasts were be able to sample the winning wines from the 2015 Nedbank Green Wine Awards in Cape Town and Johannesburg in November. More information on these tasting events can be found at greenwineawards.com/tasting-events.

Twitter: @GreenWineAwards

#GreenWineAwards

2015 Winners

Best Wines Made From Organically Grown Grapes

  • Best Wine Overall – Org De Rac La Verne MCC 2012
  • Best Red – Reyneke Cornerstone 2013
  • Best White – Laibach Woolworths Ladybird Chardonnay 2014
  • Bloggers’ Choice – Org De Rac La Verne MCC 2012
  • Best Value – Stellar Organics Running Duck Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Best Integrated Production of Wine

  • Best Wine Overall – Sijnn White 2013
  • Best Red – Waverley Hills Grenache 2014
  • Best White – Sijnn White 2013
  • Bloggers’ Choice – The FMC 2013
  • Best Value – Wildekrans Wine Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Best Farming Practice Winners

  • Overall Winner – Wildekrans
  • Leader in Energy Conservation – Lourensford
  • Leader in Water Conservation – Spier
  • Leader in Eco-tourism – Villiera
  • Leader in Community Development – Wildekrans

 

For tips on how you can save energy and costs every day,

DOWNLOAD THE NEDBANK GREEN LIVING GUIDE HERE

 

Going Green: Tips For A Green Holiday Season

With the holiday season quickly approaching, here are a few tips from Simon Gear on making your holiday season a little bit greener.

Buy Simple Presents

Too many of us allow the whole holiday gift-giving thing to become far too much of a strain and we invariably land up buying gifts for the sake of it, rather than finding things that are actually going to be used and appreciated. The best possible piece of advice I can give here is to make a list of everyone you will be gifting and then take yourself off to your local organic market. In about half an hour you can fill up with the most fantastic range of sweets and preserves, all of which will be appreciated and all of which will cost neither you nor the planet much at all.

Give Green Year-End Gifts To Your Workforce

The opportunities to change people’s lives with fairly simple gifts are boundless, particularly if you employ people who live well outside the big city centres. Start by chatting to your workers and getting a sense of what sort of lives they lead back home. You may well find that a simple gift like a basic solar-powered LED lighting system or a hot box cooker could make a huge difference. Other opportunities include a seed set for a trench garden (plus a company training day to teach people how to plant it); ceiling boards for RDP houses; or water barrels to keep veggie gardens hydrated. Expand the footprint of your business out into the lives of the people who work with you.

Reuse Wrapping - Buy Gift Packets/Bags

Words cannot express the joy I felt when, about a decade ago, the fashion arose of no longer wrapping gifts but rather just plunking them in one of those gift packets. I’ve never been able to wrap any package without it coming out looking like a parcel bomb post-explosion, so to spend a little extra and just pop it in the packet right there in the shop, felt like a personal blessing from the Ghost of Christmas Present. And then it got even better. Because you don’t really do anything with the bag but carry it straight over to your girlfriend’s house and hand it to her, everyone now has a collection of these packets in near mint condition. We should never have to buy wrapping paper again.

Buy Gifts Online At Charity Sites

You never think of it until it’s too late so I’m suggesting it now. Probably the best way to give great gifts that also have a sustainable aspect to them is to start doing your gift shopping online at charity websites. These days almost all of the large charities have some form of online shop. The merchandise available ranges from stuff very specific to the work of that organisation to pretty comprehensive collections of guide books, organic products and clothing. If you're in South Africa, browse around, but www.ewt.org.za and www.panda.org.za are good places to start.

Paperless Christmas

If you celebrate Christmas, www.paperlesschristmas.org is great fun. It is a virtual advent calendar with video clips and so on behind each door. The site is run by BRF, a British church-based charity, and the site is a good example of crossing the boundary between tradition and technology. The clips are very kiddie friendly and the whole site is slick and well managed. The thinking behind it is partially to set up paperless alternatives to traditional Christmas favourites, such as advent calendars and cards. Of course, I found that it served to remind my son of his chocolate-filled real word calendar, rather than to distract him from it. But it still proved a fun way to start the day together throughout the Christmas period.

Get A Real Tree...But Not A Whole One

I’m not a huge fan of pine trees. They are completely wrong for the South African landscape; always looking somehow dirty and bedraggled, and their habit of poisoning the soil at their base makes them an appalling choice for a garden. But when compared to a plastic tree, they sneak in above bottom. The thing about Christmas trees is that there is no reason to have a whole one. Assuming you want to go traditional and have something pine-like in the first place, simply finding a pine tree and sawing off a lower branch provides you with a perfectly sized tree for the living room. Otherwise, finding an interesting piece of drift wood or just bringing in an entire pot plant is likely to work just as well. The nice thing about fetching a likely pine branch is it rapidly becomes one of those annual Christmas memories for dads to share with their kids.

The Wonders Of Oxygen

An unlikely hero. It’s colourless, odourless, and without it we cannot live. Yet we give very little thought to just how important it is and more specifically, how it could benefit our health.

If you’re on the lookout for alternative healing methods for a whole host of health issues ranging from cancer and anemia to influenza and various infections or skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, then perhaps you should consider ozone therapy as a viable option.

The Source Of Disease

It is believed that the fundamental cause of all disease is a lack of oxygen. The understanding that the human body is predominantly composed of water and that water is over 80% oxygen further supports this theory. It therefore stands to reason that the only element that is in continuous demand is oxygen and therefore its absence is fatal in a matter of minutes.

In addition, free radicals created as a by-product of oxygen metabolism, then poach electrons from other molecules, ultimately damaging those molecules. Our bodies tend to function reasonably well with some free radicals floating around, in fact our bodies can purposefully create them in order to neutralize pathogenic bacteria and viruses. However, as with anything is life, too much of even a good thing can become problematic and as such, an excess of these free radicals has been linked to a number of poor health conditions. Moreover, this entire process can be augmented through external factors such as increased stress and exposure to pollution, harmful light including sunlight as well as smoking and the consumption of alcohol.

Enter In Super Oxygen: Ozone

Ozone was discovered in 1840 by German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schonbeing, when he observed a gas with an “electric and pungent smell” that could be considered “super-active oxygen”.* Seventeen years later Werner von Siemens, German inventor and industrialist and also the founder of the electrical and telecommunications company Siemens, developed the first ozone generator. By 1881 Dr. J. H. Kellogg first used Ozone in steam saunas at his clinic based in Michigan and in 1926 Dr. Otto Warburg, former director of the Kaiser Institute for Cell Physiology in Berlin, released his research on cancer detailing a vital link to the disease and oxygen. In fact,according to his research he had discovered that the cause of cancer is a lack of oxygen at the cellular level. As a result, in 1931 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work, and in 1944 he was presented with a second Nobel Prize, the only person ever to receive two Nobel Prizes for medicine. His research discovered that the principal cause of cancer is when the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells is replaced by the fermentation of sugar. He discovered that normal, functioning cells thrive in an alkaline body whereas cancer cells thrive in an acidic state. In addition, acidosis is prevalent when there is a lack of oxygen and vice versa.** Fast forward to the modern era when only now these alternative methods gaining traction.

Why We May Need It

I have written about my journey to overcoming skin issues, eczema in particular, and whilst researching root causes as well as natural remedies for these issues, I came across Ozone therapy. My mom then shared an article with me on a South African woman who travelled all the way to Vichy in France to treat her chronic eczema by bathing in Ozone spas. So when I experienced a particularly bad flare-up of eczema earlier this year, I decided to find a local Ozone institution and was put in touch with Ozone therapist and the head of the Ozone Therapy Association of South Africa, Dr. Michelle Nicolopulos. Dr. Nicolopulos, shared how the various applications of Ozone have developed over the years and currently include six modalities: Major Autohemotherapy, Minor Autohemotherapy, Bio-oxidative Therapy, Ozone Saline Drips, Insufflation, EBOO and Hyperthermia Total Body Exposure (Steam Saunas).

“Every breathing person should consider ozone therapy, whether young or old. The basis of what we do is oxygen and we all know that you cannot survive without oxygen” says Dr. Nicolopulos. It is her opinion that when it comes to disease, the general consensus in naturopathic circles, is that the patient probably most likely has very low oxygen levels and therefore high acid levels. “This situation becomes a breeding ground for ill health. If each person maintained high oxygen levels they would be less likely to ever get sick because viruses cannot survive in high oxygen [environments], because they are anaerobic.”

She believes that our modern lifestyles are huge precursors of disease. “One of our biggest problems, as the human race, is our greed. Everything we do today is based on instant gratification and we do not consider the consequence of our actions. Fast food, fast lifestyles, high stress, zero health maintenance, pollution, hormones in our meat, genetically modified seeds, over population, over fishing, toxic medication, vaccines, shallow breathing...and the list goes on – no wonder we are sick”.

She advises patients to find a way to slow down and highly recommends ozone therapy treatments as a solution.

My Experience

I sat in an ozone chamber for a duration of 30-40minutes and this was probably the hardest part of the treatment as I felt slightly claustrophobic but Dr. Nicolopulos and I chatted up a storm which helped ease my nerves. She is interested in the health history of her clients and makes a concerted effort to share her knowledge beyond ozone treatment, which includes an Ayurvedic approach to nutrition. Before I knew it the 30 minutes were over and I experienced a sudden rush of blood to the head or a light headed feeling. At first this felt abnormal but Dr. Nicolopulos assured me that it was very normal and in fact was an elevated state of being. She highlighted that most of us do not know what true wellness actually feels like. By the time I wrote this article I had attended three sessions with Dr. Nicolopulos and a definite improvement in my condition and energy levels.

Give ozone therapy a try!

 

*http://www.site.ozoneassociation.co.za/index.php/protocol-and-history

**https://sites.google.com/site/ganodermareview/the-root-cause-of-cancer

Image Credit

Gardening During The Drought

South Africa has been going through a bad drought and there are huge water shortages in Phokeng in the North West province where I live. A lot of articles in the media talk about the water crisis, its impact on farmers and communities and what government is doing to help alleviate the problem.

Sometimes I find myself laughing hard at what people say, not because it’s funny, but because I want to cry and laughing stops the tears. On the one hand we are encouraged to grow as much of our own food as we can to help reduce the spiraling food costs, yet the water shortages make it extremely hard to do so. How do I grow my own food when drinking water is limited?

I’ve tried to be as prepared as I can for the extreme heat and semi-arid climate of Phokeng (located just outside Rustenburg), where every year mid-summer temperatures skate close to 40 degrees Celcius and the water shortages are becoming a norm, even when nationally nobody talks about drought.

The odd advantage I have is that I inherited my home from my parents who invested heavily in self-sufficient practices during the apartheid years, as they had no access to municipal water. They dug a borehole, which supplies a 5000 litre tank linked to my household supply. When I started to grow my food year-round, I also invested in a 10 000 litre tank, which provides for the garden solely. You’d think with all that storage drought wouldn’t be one of my biggest issues right now, would you?

The problem is that access to water in my community is a sporadic thing. So those of us who have stored water or boreholes end up sharing what we have until municipal water starts running again.

I’m never sure when the water will come back, so I ration to the water from the 10 000 litre tank very carefully, with every household allowed 40 litres daily, where there are no children, and 80 litres for households that have children. So far, the system sort of works for all of us – my gate is always open, and everyone knows how much they can take.

Water Tank

But, back to food gardening, my conundrum is this: how can I water my food garden, which is supposed to provide up to 80% of our vegetables and 100% of our herbs, when my neighbours don’t even have water to drink, cook, bath or flush their toilets? I’m afraid it would feel like a slap in their faces to watch me “throw water onto the ground,” when they need it to drink. So for now, I don’t water my garden. Much.

My poor garden is still standing though. And it’s still productive, though not as much as I would like. Here are some of the strategies I’ve employed /plan to employ to aid my food garden’s survival:

Plant Early

Phokeng is always hot in late Spring and Summer and rain remains sporadic due to the climate. So right from the beginning, I’ve had to learn optimal times to plant so that by the time the daily heat is high, my plants have a strong hold on the ground.

Choose Plants That Do Well With Limited Water

I’m still struggling with my plant selection, trying to find vegetables that can survive prolonged droughts and heat year after year, but which my family will enjoy eating. It’s no use growing cactus-based plants if my family won’t eat it!

So far, I’ve found that root vegetables like carrots, beetroot and onion do OK but not wonderfully, in drought periods. I also struggle with cabbage, though kale and rape do well enough. For now, my garden is restricted to very basic crops: greens like spinach, chard, kale and rape; a variety of beans, zucchini (summer squash) and artichokes. My onion and leeks are struggling. It is my hope they’ll survive the dry spell.

Mulching Is Necessary

Irrigation is not only about watering the garden; it’s about retaining whatever moisture the soil may already have. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way.

Reduce Competition For Water In The Soil

When there are big amounts of rain, I’m happy to let my garden to grow wild and for seeds from previous seasons to unexpectedly sprout and surprise me. Unfortunately, when there is a water shortage I don’t have that luxury. All the weeds and unplanned seedlings have to go, so that the crops that I’m nursing through the process can have as much water as the soil can retain.

Grey Water Adds Much-Needed Moisture

So far we water with grey water when we remember to carry it out of the house with buckets. It’s hard work. But it’s worth it, because I can water my garden without any feelings of guilt. So next time I have two cents to rub together, I’m going to invest in a piping system from the house, so the water automatically goes to the garden.

Collect Rain Water (When It Comes)

When I was growing up, my grandfather had several tanks collecting rainwater from the roof gutters. We used some of the water for the garden, and the rest for laundry and cleaning in order to save money on the petrol we required to run the generator for the borehole. When we began to get municipal water, we relaxed on that, thinking we didn’t need to collect rainwater anymore. That was a mistake. It’s better to collect as much rainwater as we can, when we can, so that we have some stored for dry periods such as this one.

Cover And Shade

My garden is a busy mix of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, all interspersed. Long-term, the fruit trees will provide shade for plants that are sensitive to the sun, so that they can grow midsummer without going crispy. Big leafy plants such as artichokes also provide shade for smaller plants like chives, spring onions and “cut and come again” lettuce.

Mostly, I find myself constantly re-evaluating my gardening practices to check if they can help me keep my family fed while also using as little water as possible. What can I change without compromising my crops? What can I do in terms of planning for the medium-term because clearly, this drought is not a once-off thing? Chances are, next year and the year after will also be dry, and as a result, food prices will keep climbing and my garden will become a critical part of my regular food supply.

I hope that other gardeners will also start exploring this topic and proposing possible solutions that can help those of us who rely on our gardens for most of our meals.

The Time To Quit Sugar Is Now!

So much for Mary Poppins. All those spoonful’s of sugar are contributing to arguably the biggest health threat facing humanity – diabetes. November, being World Diabetes Awareness Month, is the perfect month to say no to diabetes, and to get to the heart of the problem – quitting sugar.

Diabetes, known as the “silent killer”, is a serious disease that causes your blood glucose to be too high. Although glucose is needed by the body for energy, an excess can create health risks. Diabetics are more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or other complications, including blindness, kidney disease, gum infections and amputation.

But it is not all doom and gloom. The good news, is that type 2 diabetes (the common kind that accounts for at least 90% of diabetes) is not only preventable, it’s reversible! Both child-onset diabetes and adult-onset diabetes (type 2) are conditions caused by prolonged high blood sugar levels. Adult-onset diabetes is usually a consequence of poor eating habits (too much sugar and stimulants), often preceded by hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar levels.

For many people the first taste of sugar addiction comes from seeking something that will increase energy levels or decrease stress, depression and anxiety – all of which are most often caused by sub-optimum nutrition, a lack of sleep and working (or playing) too hard. The bottom line is that sugar is bad for you. Although a valuable fuel for our cells, it can be toxic when consumed often and in excess, causing damage to the arteries, kidneys, eyes and nerves.

Unfortunately though, the act of coming off sugar has been likened to going cold turkey on a heroin habit! This seems rather extreme, but even those who don't add three spoonful’s of sugar to their tea or coffee every morning, are probably overloading on sugar with cereals, fruits and other high-GL carbohydrates.

How To Quit Sugar, Without Feeling Sh**t!

  1. Choose low-GL instead of high-GL foods. The sugars and starches in foods with a low GL (complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables, beans and lentils) take a longer time to digest than refined carbohydrates, allowing the glucose to trickle into your blood slowly, keeping blood glucose levels even and giving you sustained energy for longer.
  2. Eat protein with carbohydrates. The more fibre and protein you include with any meal or snack, the slower the release of the carbohydrates, which is good for your blood glucose balance.
  3. Graze, don’t gorge – eat little and often. By spreading your meals throughout the day and eating five or six small meals instead of three larger ones, you won’t get hungry or have blood sugar dips that cause uncontrollable cravings.
  4. Never go without breakfast. The biggest mistake you can make is not to eat breakfast. This is when your blood sugar is at its lowest. This is the time to eat a healthy, low-GL breakfast that will level your blood sugar. A strong coffee, with a piece of toast with jam (carb plus sugar), will set you up for a blood sugar level that yo-yos the whole day.
  5. Replace sugar with xylitol. Xylitol is the most natural alternative to sugar, found in small amounts in fruits such as plums, cherries and most berries – and unlike sugar, does not affect blood sugar levels. It also contains 40% fewer calories.
  6. Make your own cereals, replacing any sugar with xylitol, if necessary. Most “healthy” granolas are packed with sugar and therefore not a good option for breakfast.
  7. Minimise caffeine and alcohol, as these both affect your blood sugar. Especially during the Christmas silly season, try to limit the amount of times a week you have an alcoholic drink. Limit what you drink. Stick to wine and champagne instead of beer and spirits as these are lower in calories.
  8. Change the way you react to stress. Whatever your thoughts on stress, the reality is that body chemistry fundamentally changes every time a person reacts to it. When a person feels stressed, they inevitably turn to sugar or other stimulants for energy and control. Spend time documenting how you react to stress and replace those behaviour patterns with healthier ones (e.g. eating fruit instead of sweets or chocolates).
  9. Drink water at every craving. Each time you have a craving, rather than jumping at the first snack that comes to mind, first have a large glass of water, then a piece of fruit with some nuts or seeds (eating protein with carbohydrate keeps your blood sugar level even).
  10. Rebalance your brain with amino acids and chromium. Amino acids, such as Tryptophan help restore a possible underlying serotonin deficiency that leads to carbohydrate cravings, and you should therefore take optimum amounts of these. Chromium helps to support blood sugar balance.

“IDF launched The Framework for Action on Sugar. The framework is IDF’s official response to exploding sugar intake, increasing rates of obesity and the rising tide of diabetes, anticipated to affect 592 million people by 2035, a 53% increase on existing cases. The Framework calls on national governments to implement policies to reduce sugar consumption and advocates specific measures to increase access to healthy alternatives such as fresh fruit and vegetables and clean drinking water, in order to help prevent new cases of type 2 diabetes. IDF estimates that up to 70% of type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented through lifestyle interventions."

For more information: International Diabetes Federation Framework and updated statistics on Diabetes in Africa (SA is included in this IDF Africa region).

Slowing Down: Spring Unfolding

Can you make room for slowness in your life? To feel and appreciate the sounds, sights and scents of spring life unfolding?

After the winter months, I have been experiencing a profound surrender to what is.

A very practical impact of this on my daily life has been a slowing down and letting go of rushing, planning and controlling. I feel more receptive to the wonder of life in each moment, a softening into my heart which feels as if I’m able to bring the gentle power of my heart more easily to each experience. Of course, there are situations that still push my buttons! I’ve also learnt that I can do things quickly with a slow frame of mind helping to transmute tension into relaxation.

When we rush we skim the surface of life experiences and miss a depth of connection with people and with the aliveness of life itself. We seek to cram in as many experiences as possible and seem to have lost the art of doing nothing, of slowing down and simply being – with ourselves and stillness. Speed and busyness have become an addiction and a distraction.

Fast can feel busy, controlling, aggressive, rushed, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, quantity over quality.

Slow can feel calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality over quantity.

Every living being, event and process has its own inherent rhythm – nature teaches us this. Be slow when it makes sense to. Be fast when it makes sense to. In this way you choose a way of being that can feel alive, connected and wise.

“Do you see that everything in the universe is simply doing its dance – expressing itself the only way it can… and this is happening in every moment. Seeing this clearly brings instant relaxation and peace. Why? Because everything is doing the only dance it can, what is there to worry about?” Bhakti Maa

Keeping Fit Outside The Gym

South Africa's sunny skies in the festive season are enough to make anyone crave the outdoors, with gym routines being forgotten as a result. The irony of it? Summer is when we strive to be in the best shape possible! If you want to keep fit while still enjoying the feel good factor of the holiday season, here are some activities to get you there.

Hit The Water

Our warm weather should already have you in the water, so make the most of it! Stand up paddle-boarding remains one of the most popular, family-friendly and physically demanding watersports of the moment, but you can get back to basics and enjoy skiing and tubing – while torching a lot of calories. Kayaking and paddle-boats are easier options if you’re going it alone or just with a partner. Another firm family favourite is a nearby waterpark.

Bounce It Out

As adults, jumping on trampolines is often a foreign and forgotten pleasure. The benefits are also endless, with rebounding improving everything from core strength, bone density and joint health to cellulite and skin tone! Join the kids and make the most of trampolines, whether at home or at your holiday destination. You can even pencil it in properly and try out the new bouncing facilities cropping up nationwide that are essentially wall-to-wall trampolines lined with foam.

Join A Community

It’s still scheduled exercise, but gathering at the beachfront or park for a communal run adds an element of festivity to your average 5km. Join one of the many free running or trail running clubs in your area (parkrun is guaranteed to be available in all big cities) and bring the whole family along. Keep an eye out for specific family events like colour runs and night cycles as well.

Make Your Home A Playground

Gardens and driveways provide the perfect space for badminton or volleyball nets. Set them up for your kids and their friends – and for you and yours as well! Having a fun and social activity at home will encourage your kids to get active and enjoy time with the family.

Hit The Roller Derby

A little more alternative, maybe, but definitely no less fun! This typically American female-dominated contact sport is finally trickling down into South Africa and will have you sweating out your calories in a big way. If you’re confident on rollerskates, you can sign up for weekly games at a small fee – and if the trend hasn’t hit your area yet, simply don your skates and hit the promenade instead!

Explore The Sea

Snorkeling and diving are one of the most pleasant ways to exert energy outdoors. Start light with some easy snorkeling, or take it to the next level and enjoy a scuba diving course. If that’s a bit intimidating, rent a seawalker and enjoy walking on the ocean floor! The resistance of the water will tone without you noticing.

Explore By Foot

Whether you’re in a new destination or home for the holidays, be a tourist and plan a walking tour. Pick a trail route, picnic site or a historical monument and plan a walking route around it.

Plan A DIY Holiday Project

This could be for you, or the family as a whole, but take on a fairly physical DIY project for the holidays. Maybe you want to build that veggie patch, make a small treehouse for the kids or use pallets for outside furniture. It could even be as simple as painting an outside wall a different colour for a fun upgrade. Get creative and physical at the same time and enjoy a tangible reward at the end of it.

Walk And Talk

Do you and your bestie love your weekly catch ups? Skip the wine and chocolate on the couch and meet up in a nearby park or communal garden instead. Map a route and enjoy a brisk walk while catching up as usual – a coffee at the end of it could serve as a reward when you’re done.

Hit The Gym – Outdoors

That’s right – all the benefits of a regular gym, cleverly structured for outdoor use! These amazing innovations may seem like a strange set of jungle gyms at first glance – but don’t be fooled. The outdoor gym equipment lets you train muscle groups with added resistance, and is both free and open 24/7! All our main cities are well-equipped with outdoor gyms, and these are but a few of them offered nationwide! Browse online for an outdoor gym in your area and enjoy a fully-equipped gym workout in the fresh air.

CERA To Tackle 50 Shades Of Food Illusion

CERA – The Conscious and Ethical Retailer, Consumers and Producers Alliance

This is a coming together of some of the greatest leaders in the SA Food Revolution to address 50 Shades of Food Illusion. As things now stand we have some of the greatest leaders, activists, journalists, conscious consumers, farmers, and related businesses attending the launch workshops. Everybody is very excited about this initiative and despite feeling a little daunted (understatement) at the undertaking of this, every day I am reminded of why it is such a critical mission.

We need incorruptible and determined contributors to The SA Food Revolution to all come together into a focused alliance with consumers to shape this space. Without this, green-washing which is becoming so ridiculous my mind boggles and my patience snaps – is only going to get worse. Every week, I have samples put on my desk of things that do not belong in a store like this – yet because there are other ‘health and related’ stores like ours, there is an expectation that we will.

There are small, sometimes great artisans doing amazing things that have their products up in other stores, but we can’t take it on because the labelling is not in alignment with the labelling laws or the Consumer Protection Act. As a solution, we have started coaching artisans on how to get their products and labels retail fit.

Incorrectly labelled products, most especially in the green, ‘health’ and sustainable food space is currently the most mislabelled area of our food system. This isn’t good for the whole sector.

CERA will be the solution to this. It will bring us all together to work on vetting and checking new farmers and producers in the sustainable food space, quickly identify the charlatans, and misleading claims and stop them from tainting the whole revolution space with green-washing, bringing down the same illusion that characterised conventional food to this space.

If you are a conscious consumer and want to participate in this movement, consider joining the launch workshops, more information here. You will get to meet and interact with some of South Africa's greatest food activists, ethical retailers, farmers and food activists. Invitation is open to any person, organisation, ethical retailer, chef, food artisan, producer, NGO, or business interested in shaping the SA Food Revolution by contributing towards the creation of an alternate food system.

An Example Of Why SA Labelling Is Important: Coconut Water 

That said, I need to chat quickly about the coconut water in-store, Raw C Coconut Water, endorsed by Chef Pete Evans. This product, though I think is the best I can find on the market right now, is an example of where labelling can get misleading and evidence that this happens in other countries as much as ours.

I like this coconut water because it answers questions I haven’t been able to have answered adequately enough before: Where are the coconuts coming from? Can this be verified and traced? Is it single source origin or using coconuts from multiple sources? Is there any added sugar? Is it made from concentrate or not? Does it contain preservatives or additives? Is there somebody to back the information?

So whilst Raw C Coconut Water answers those questions, the packaging is actually not in line with South African labelling law and is further evidence to me of the superiority of our Labelling Act. We have some great legislation in this country, truly, where we fall flat is on government enforcement, resources and expertise.

The fact is that the wording and the company name ‘Raw C’ and ‘raw hydration’ create a misleading impression that the contents are raw when actually the water – like any coconut water you will find that isn’t frozen – has to be. This is a great example of what our Consumer Protection Act means to do – to protect the consumer from misleading claims.

The company name is ‘Raw C’ – the coconut water is not. It is one of the least pasteurised we’ve found – flash pasteurised for only 2 seconds – but in terms of the law, it isn't ‘Natural’ or ‘Raw.' According to our ACT R146 which legislates through the Consumer Protection Act – how things are labelled – you cannot use the word ‘Natural’ on anything that has been altered from it’s whole, natural state. In this country you would not be allowed to use the word ‘Natural’ on a coconut water that has been flash pasteurised, even if only for 2 seconds. So the Johannesburg agent will be covering up the words ‘Natural’ on the packaging.

 

This is what we are on high alert for and what CERA will monitor and check in the food revolution space. Start looking at labels and look out for deceiving words. Educating yourself, so that you are empowered out there, is a critical part of the food revolution. If the wool can’t be pulled over your eyes – it’ll be more difficult for green-washers to target you.

Despite scrutinising green-washers, I have also had some great experiences with new artisans where I have coached them into proper and better labelling, and in the process discovered new and exciting things.

For example, there was a lady making kefir that we couldn't put on the shelf because the labelling wasn't sound, and I didn't know anything about the farm she was sourcing the dairy from. Then we chatted about the labels and I asked where the milk was coming from, and then she started describing a farm that got my blood pumping (in a good way)! A small, family run farm where the cows are only eating grass and oats! This led me to inform her that she was absolutely under-selling her product and that she needed to get me to this farm ASAP, because if that was really true there is no way her dairy should be marked as just ‘kefir’ on the shelf. We need to know about this farm and I want to get there and check it out, because a farm like that is gold-dust.

Then there was a sweet man who came in all excited with his 2 new coconut nut butter spreads that are so delicious, I wanted to weep – but the packaging is all wrong. You can’t say ‘home-made’ on a product without inviting all sorts of trouble so that will come off, but as we work with him we can ensure that small artisans do themselves and this revolution space, justice by just getting things right from the start. We all deserve that because we all deserve an alternative real food offering to the conventional one that dominates and harms.

You will also notice that CERA will be making any product with health claims on their labels, change. It is illegal in terms of the Consumer Protection Act to make any kind of health claims on packaging. There is very good reason for this: even though health benefits on many of the products I’ve seen are often true, there are just as many that aren’t.

For example, a new sprouts product came in yesterday, the farmer had put information on the packs to tell you about the different properties of the sprouts. That unfortunately stands as a ‘health claim’ and it has to come off.

Warning: Kombucha

Another recent labelling incident occurred with a Kombucha agent selling a product with a terribly illegal label in terms of our labelling law. When she had this pointed out to her, she replied ‘never mind, we’ve got it in another store and we are only the distributors – we do not need to know how it is made nor are we responsible for the labels.' Actually, it is an illegal offense for anybody in the chain to sell mislabelled products not in line with the Consumer Protection Act.

Also, if you are going to sell me on a product that has live bacteria in it that has resulted in deaths when not brewed properly, you better not tell me that you know nothing about where it comes from and that you don’t have to because you only distribute it. I cannot begin to tell you how dangerous this is and yet this Kombucha is everywhere.

If you are seeing a product everywhere else but not here, the reason for it is CERA. That’s where I take my anger and transmute it into the equal and opposite of this green-washing – we will create something powerful enough to ensure that this nonsense in the food place doesn’t happen. The SA Food Revolution needs an army of educated customers to drive it and shape it and that’s why CERA will be making every effort to get you information that allows you to shop more discerningly.

All that said – just keep it simple – eat Real Food from Real Farmers who farm sustainably and all will be well. Onwards and Upwards with The Jozi Real Food Revolution - standing for your right to access food from South Africa’s most sustainable farmers.

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