Busy bee and a turmeric, ginger and spirulina health insurance shot

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Sorry for having been so quiet lately. My life had suddenly got very busy…..in a good way. I’m feeling quite exited indeed. So some things that are happening;

I’m sorting out the blog, not changing it massively but it has lately felt too restricted which means I lost a bit of my spark so I’m making some small changes to make me exited again. I do think this is how we should always deal with things in life. If something has lost its spark we need to look at what we need to change to make it inspiring again…or move on. Don’t stay stuck in something spark-less!

I have also have started to seriously go for my dream of running a marathon, yes I have runners knees, yes I have a crappy, way too tight IT band and yes I have MS. Why should that stop me from running a marathon? I see absolutely no reason. So I have got new running shoes, new insoles and a personal trainer who is helping me to build strength in the right places. I’m also hopefully going to go and see my favourite physio. I’m icing my muscles and am using the foam roller to ease my ITband muscles. And if that doesn’t work then well I’ll try something else. Maybe I will become a barefoot runner…..

Adding to that I’m doing something that I have been wanting to do more of for a loong time…..dancing. Did jazzdance on Monday and Flamenco yesterday…..Flamenco was amazing, such passion and beauty. And the jazzdance was cool. I seriously kicked ass!! We’ll at least in my head which is all that matters ; )

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One part of sorting out my knees is to reduce inflammation in my body which is not only good for my knees but also for my Multiple Sclerosis and my health in general.
Chronic low-level inflammation has been linked to many western diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

If you want to read more about why reducing inflammation is very very very important here are some articles to read;

Mindbodygreen
Sciencedirect
Mercola

To reduce inflammation in my body things that I want to include in my diet on a daily basis are Turmeric, Ginger and Spirulina. I try to add turmeric and ginger in my cooking as often as possible but I don’t use it every day so I decided to make a little shot of these ingredients and drink it daily. It’s my health insurance for much less than £1 per day! I use capsules of turmeric which has a higher percentage of curcumin (the beneficial component of turmeric) than the spice from your regular shop.

I was fairly sure that I had to write a post about how sometimes we have to ingest things not because we like them but for the incredible health benefits…… But to my surprise I found that there is a way that actually makes it taste…..not-quite-Saturday-treat-ish but really really ok..

Turmeric, ginger and Spirulina health shot

1 capsule of Turmeric ( I use Terra Nova )
1 teaspoon of Spirulina ( I use Creative Nature’s Spirulina Powder (Hawaiian)
Freshly grated ginger (2cm cube)
5 tablespoons of coconut milk
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper ( enhances the health benefits of turmeric )

Open up the capsule and add to the coconut milk, add the spirulina, the freshly grated ginger and some black pepper.
Stir and enjoy! Or neck it down if it still doesn’t suit your taste : )

Ginger is very good at relieving motion sickness and nausea in general, it’s a digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, it fights cancer and is good at dealing with colds and flu

Turmeric is a very potent anti-inflammatory, wards off dementia, fights cancer and inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Spirulina is high in protein, helps allergies, removes toxins from your blood, reinforces your immune system, is anti-inflammatory, helps you control high blood pressure and cholesterol, is a great source of various nutrients such as B12 and helps protect you from cancer.

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My Multiple Sclerosis (MS) story- part 2 Healing and Recovery

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This is the part of the story where I’m going to tell you about my road to recovery. It’s a tricky part because I don’t want to give the impression that I have found a magical, one-size-fits all cure to MS..because I haven’t. I have found what works really well….for me. Nor do I want to give the impression that I’m Mrs super-fit who is never tired, never has a sore back or never ever has any health problems. I’m just like any regular person who does get worn out if I push myself too hard and who struggles to find time to do exercise….But hey that’s pretty good….being just like anyone else, given that 6 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was faced with a very uncertain future in regards to my health……

So after I had been diagnosed I had a couple of days or a week of feeling terribly sorry for myself ( I most likely scoffed one or two or three tubs of Ben & Jerry’s during those days ) Then I guess I found some sort of fighting spirit within me and I quite firmly decided no, I’m not going to let this thing beat me, no way, no way, no way!
The neurologist very kindly offered me disease modifying drugs and steroids. ( yes I’m being slightly sarcastic by using the word kindly) Since I had already started to read about nutrition and a more holistic view on health I strongly believed that there was a different path to stroll down rather than using conventional medicine. I felt fairly certain that medicines wouldn’t “fix” my body since I instinctively felt that I was “broken” because of stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. The last thing on earth I wanted to do was to put more toxins into my body. And anyway, the medicines would just give me a 30% chance of having less episodes but had exactly the same side effects as the illness. Seemed absurd to me.

So I declined their very kind offer and started on my path as a healing detective : ) I was reading anything I could find about MS and holistic treatments. Found lots of stories of people who got better and started to connect the dots between them. Vitamin D, B12, eating minimal saturated fats, a positive mindset, eating lots of vegetables, meditation, exercise, getting rid of toxins in your body, staying away from processed food. I also started to find lots of stuff that seemed really relevant to my own health.

For example if the thyroid gland has been under stress for a long period it can start attacking it’s own healthy cells…ok, sounds like MS and is true for me, I certainly had been very stressed for a long time
B12 deficiency has almost identical symptoms to MS. And stress, alcohol and crap food depletes B12……umm….aha I see!

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Decided to see a nutritionist ( See details below ) who took some tests and as I suspected, my body was completely wrecked. My thyroids and adrenals were exhausted, my vitamin levels were all over the place. I tested intolerant to several types of food. She also suspected I had candida and leaky gut. And after quite a bit of convincing I went on a 3 month candida diet with added extras (as if the candida diet isn’t strict enough ; ) no sugar, no fruit, no alcohol, no dairy, no meat, no coffee, no rice, no peas, no wheat, no soya, no yeast, no citric acid….the list goes on! The first week was diabolical, seriously difficult to get out of bed. I felt awful. Really! But as the weeks progressed I started feeling……well pretty good. I stuck to the diet over Christmas and New Year’s Eve which was interesting to say the least but in the end of the day what is one Christmas amongst many if I could have my health back.

I also tried to get rid of as many toxins as possible so started using deodorant without aluminium, shampoo and shower gel without parabens and other toxins, toothpaste without SLS, stopped colouring my hair, used cleaning products without toxins, natural make-up, ate organic vegetables etc etc. I even started making my own paraffin free candles. It’s unbelievable
how many toxins we get into ourselves on a daily basis!
No wonder the body has little capacity left to fight illnesses.

I continued to work really hard on continuing the mindset I was thought through CBT, searching for the positive rather than the negative. So for example when going to the gym and looking in the mirror instead of screaming I haaaaaate my varicous veins I smiled and thought this is an amazing body because it is healthy, it has legs that can walk, it doesn’t hurt and it can lift heavy weights ( I went back to bodypump shortly after having been diagnosed using tiny tiny tiny weights in the beginning)

I tried a lot of other alternative treatments, reflexology which is amazing and I still do sometimes ( see details below) I tried bee pollen, visualisations, meditation, the placebo effect….you name it.

And how did it all go. Well 6 1/2 years later and I still haven’t had another episode and I’m not in the slightest bothered by my MS. The doctors think I am lucky. I think I am lucky that I listened to my inner voice that told me to go down an alternative route and refused the medicine. ( please note I’m not recommending to anyone to not take their medicines, this is my story and this is what felt right and worked for me ) I honestly believe that my body was imbalanced and toxic and that I needed to get it back into balance. I don’t dare to think about how I would feel today if I had taken the medicine and hadn’t changed my life style (which my then GP suggested)

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So what things would I recommend for a person who has recently been diagnosed with MS? Like I said before, I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution. Every individual should look at their own life and ask, what’s not working really well? Using lots of toxins at work, is that part of what’s making you ill? Lots of amalgam fillings in your teeth? Is removing them part of the solution? Is there a part of your life that you are unhappy and stressed about, partner, work? Are you eating food that damages your body rather than foods that will help your body to heal? And so on and so forth. You get my drift.


For me my way to recovery was definitely a combination of many things.

Seeing a nutritionist who looked at me as a whole and who could take tests that showed imbalances in my body and helped me correct them. Super important!

The 3 month diet, definitely! It allowed my body to have a long break where it fully could concentrate on healing, our own bodies have a great healing capacity if we just let them.

B12 is of mayor importance, the only time I have felt slightly unwell was when I stopped taking it. I am taking 400 micrograms of sublingual powder every day. And B12 is a water soluble vitamin so there’s no harm in taking large doses to see if it makes a difference. It’s important that it’s sublingual powder, shoots or patches since it appears to me that a lot of people with MS has difficulties taking in b12 from food or tablets.

Changing my diet was of paramount importance. I now eat a plant based diet (some raw and some cooked) I don’t eat a lot of meat and I rarely eat butter or cream. I try to stay away from wheat and sugar as much as possible and I eat mainly organic food. Processed food is a rare event. It may sound strict and boring but it most definitely isn’t.

Waving bye bye to as many toxins as possible is significant ( while writing this I realise that I have let some toxins back into my life so time to get a grip…)

Exercise is of course really really really important. ( which I’m struggling to re-introduce in my life after the birth of my two kids…..time, I neeeeeeed more time ; ) Even if you have just been diagnosed with MS there are always some exercise that you can do. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of stretching!

The placebo effect or the mind is a powerful tool. I read a lot about using your mind to think yourself well and I am going to use a quote by Henry Ford that I find explains it. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right” I believe this statement is true for the healing process. ( And no I don’t think you can heal a broken bone with the power of your mind ; ) In the beginning when I was diagnosed my husband sometimes wanted to talk about the future and the conversations went something like this;
Him; Let’s say you would get another relapse
Me: But I won’t
Him: but let’s just say you would
Me: But I won’t
Him: ok but let’s just say for arguments sake that you would
Me: hmmmmm…..ok…….but as long as you understand that I won’t.
Him: ok so let’s say you would have another episode
Me: but I won’t

Needless to say these discussions could take aaaaaalll night. What I was doing was using the placebo effect to heal myself hence not allowing me to doubt for a second that I would get better. Denial it might sound like to some but it has been proven that if we really believe something is going to make us better, there will actually be measurable positive changes in our bodies. Here’s an interesting study conducted at Harvard. The placebo effect has long been accepted as something that works by conventional medicine but they are still baffled about how it works, and how to use it.
I also used visualisations where I visualised the scars in my brain healing and disappearing. Visualisations also have been proved to have real effects on our bodies.

My dream is that one day a holistic approach using nutrition and lifestyle assessment would be the first call for treatment and that medicines would be the last option. I don’t think that the “there’s a pill for all ills” mentality works. In fact these days we take more pills than ever but many illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease are on the increase.
Ideally it would be no need for hospitals but hey I’m a dreamer, not completely crazy ; )
Don’t get me wrong, there has been some incredible advances when it comes to traditional medicine. Surgery of today is unbelievably good. But seeing the individual a a whole needs to become standard.

I also dream we will have healthcare where there’s a choice! You want to use medicine and operations? Fine we support you wholeheartedly. You want to use nutrition and exercise? Absolutely, we support you wholeheartedly. Currently this is definitely not the case. The medicines that I was offered and declined would have cost the NHS £8000 per year. Was I offered any support for vitamins, seeing a nutritionist or exercise? Nope, I don’t think so, not a penny!

The most important lesson that I have learnt from my MS story is, do your research!!! Very few people goes to buy a car without having done any research about pros and cons of what’s out there. Yet when it comes to our own health we take the doctors word for that what they are offering is the best remedy (this also goes for if you are seeing a nutritionist, naturopath or healer) Don’t take anyone’s word for what’s the best remedy. Keep an open mind and listen to what people have to say but do your research!

Nutritionist, I saw Annie McRae who has now relocated to California to be closer to her sons. (Lucky California) She does skype consultations so if you are struggling to find someone close to where you live, do contact her!

Reflexology, I am seeing Anna Lee at Shine on the Green who has magic hands! I always feel really good afterwards. And the great thing is that she can tell you if there is something wrong……..she told me there was something up with my teeth shortly after I had removed my wisdom tooth!

For recipe I picked another one with turmeric. This is a fantastic breakfast smoothie that was posted by Emily Ho on thekitchn.com. It’s perfect to prepare the night before and then you have your breakfast ready in the morning.

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Sunshine breakfast smoothie with coconut, clementines and turmeric

1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut water
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
Fresh or frozen segments from 2 (or 3 if they are small) clementines (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2-inch fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
1/2-inch fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maca powder

The original recipe called for honey it every since my post about sugar I’m trying to reduce my intake of sugar ( even natural ones)

If you are going to use frozen clementines prepare and put into freezer a couple of hours before. Then prepare the ginger and turmeric and put into blender. Add all other ingredients and blend until desired consistency. Enjoy!

My Multiple Sclerosis (MS) story-part 1 Destruction and Diagnosis

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Putting my entire MS story up on my blog like this is very personal and I have been debating with myself for a while about whether or not to do it. In the end I decided that if my story can help someone else then it’s worth it. I’m also sure that a lot of readers are thinking, my god why does this woman go on and on and on about healthy food….so here we go, here’s the answer

The summer of 2007 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. MS is a neurological disorder with many variations of symptoms such as fatigue, visual problems, balance and pins and needles in hands and feet to mention a few. It’s an auto-immune disorder where the body gets confused and starts attacking it’s own healthy cells, mainly the protective substance (myelin) around the nerve fibres. This leaves scars on the nerve fibres and signals from the brain to various body parts slow down or can’t get through at all. Imagine a dog chewing through a telephone cable before hands free existed. Our brains really should go wireless!

I’m quite sure my MS, or imbalance in my body as I tend to think these days, didn’t start that summer. I think it started a few years earlier when I was going through some extreme stress. I was working as a restaurant manager in a busy restaurant in Notting Hill. It was really hectic at times but that wasn’t the main problem, it was more that it was a job that I didn’t want to do. A part-time job during university led to an assistant manager position. I was offered and thought, what the heck until I find something else. Then shortly thereafter I was offered the position as the general manager and again I thought what the heck, until I find something else….

I was getting my portfolio ready but as the perfectionist I used to be it had to be super perfect and before I knew it I was too stressed, too exhausted and had too low self-esteem because it had taken far too long to get my portfolio ready. (Apparently people with MS tend to be perfectionists who are never happy with anything they do) It’s not that I didn’t like my job, the people I worked with were great and a good night was as good as a great party…..that we got paid for! (Not all easy-peasy though, some days and nights were very very hard)

Lesson to be learnt; if your gut feeling is telling you that you are not happy with something in your life, leave it, change it, do anything but don’t stay stuck. It might be hard to change but the consequences of not changing are harder to deal with, believe me.

Anyway I started to feel more and more unwell and exhausted. I used caffeine and sugar to get me through the day and I used to have to drink a large brandy after a 14 hour shift to wind down so I could go to sleep. I was partying hard, eating crap food and very little exercise. Then I started having some serious chest pains. I was absolutely sure I was going to have a major heart attack any day and went to my GP time and time again but he just kept trying to reassure me that all I had was a cold ( I kept going back to him with chest pains for a whole year). I went to the emergency twice, crying and shaking and they just said…..you guessed right, that I had a cold. Eventually I struggled to leave the house because the chest pain and sense of imminent death just got too strong. I went back to my GP and thankfully he was not there that day. The female GP that I saw just took a look at me and said, you are having serious panic attacks girl. You need to take time off and I panicked ( all I knew how to do at that point ) I could not take any time off, don’t be ridiculous! But I took a week off and then went back to work on prescribed Valium. (Only took Valium for a week)

In hindsight it was quite funny, there were times when we had enormous queues of people and I just swayed around in slow motion in the midst of all the craziness. Another time after having been on a mad holiday in Sicily, when boarding the flight back I brought out the brown paper bag that I used all the time to breathe into ( it helps when having a panic attack) and we ended up having a whole row of seats to ourselves. No one wanted to sit next to the crazy lady with the brown paper bag! There were also some sad stories during that time when I didn’t function as I should, and wasn’t there for loved ones.

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I was ordered by my GP to do a CBT ( cognitive behavioural therapy) group therapy course and it helped me enormously. I was thought how not to always think the worst and to be positive. I forced myself to get back travelling on the underground and it was hell but I just kept repeating my affirmations; I’m ok, I’m not going to die, I’m ok I’m not going to die! And all the while reassuring people on the tube that I was ok despite the flood of tears streaming down my face and the heavy heavy breathing! I said; It’s ok, I’m just having a panic attack and then fired of one of my best restaurant manager smiles! ; )

Things got a bit better after the CBT, I could control my panic attacks and felt a bit less anxious but then one day I woke up and couldn’t see a darn thing on my left eye. Not a thing ,completely blind. I was told I had optic neuritis which is an inflammation of the optic nerve, that I most likely would get my eyesight back but that I now had an 80% chance of developing MS. So my husband and I thought enough is enough and left our respective jobs and went travelling in Thailand and Australia for 5 months, a great trip with lots of experiences and lots of relaxation. Already then did I start reading about alternative medicine and food, thinking about health and reflecting about what my body had gone through. Came back in May and in June I had another body-really-not-acting-like-it-should-experience. Parts of my body had no sensation, had difficulties walking straight, no bladder control, tingling in hands, feet and legs, double vision ( I had to wear special glasses in order to be able to see ) and an enormous tiredness. It felt like walking through quick sand. I also had the MS “tight belt around my chest” sensation.

I signed up for a clinical research trial at the neurology department and went to do an MRI scan and afterwards was taken into a room where a couple of people were working. The neurologist who did the study showed me slices of my brain on the computer screen and cheerfully said, isn’t this great, look at the stuff modern technology can show us. Meanwhile my vision got blurry from lack of oxygen ( I stopped breathing) and tears because while he was busy being delighted about modern technology, I just kept on staring at the scars on my brain that of course I knew from having done some googling meant that I had Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis basically means; several scars. The neurologist has since apologised after I wrote him a long letter explaining my distress. Shortly after that they confirmed my suspicion, I had indeed multiple sclerosis

End of part 1 of my MS story.

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Because MS is an inflammatory disease I wanted to mention Turmeric ( the orange spice that colours curry ) probably the best anti-inflammatory stuff you can get into yourself. So if you have any problems with inflammation just consume lots. It’s sooo good for so many reasons that really I think everyone should eat it ….all the time. Turmeric has a really strong smell but you can easily put 1/2-1 teaspoon in scrambled eggs, a chilli, soup, fried rice, a smoothie…..anywhere really.

This amazing tea recipe was given to me by a dear friend. He prepares the tea in a large thermos in the morning and then travels around London with it on his cool motorbike with a roof! I’m not quite that cool but the tea is nevertheless amazing!

Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon & rooiboos tea

7-8 thin slices of ginger
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
3 cloves
1/2-1 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 bag of rooiboos

Peel and slice the ginger. Add all ingredients to a thermos or teapot or whatever you want to use. Add 1 liter (18oz) hot but not boiling water. Enjoy throughout the day!