Category Archives: Bits n’ Pieces

Heal thyself by drinking tea! [part 3]

After having talked about the dangers of tea bags and natural flavors, let’s focus on the amazing powers of drinking tea.

Fresh tea leaves left out to dry, on the way to become tea.

Why is it that tea is healthy for us? and just to be very explicit when I say tea, I mean organic loose-leaf best quality you can get your hands on tea. So, unlike us animals that have the ability to run away from danger, a plant obviously cannot. Because it is stuck in one place it has to use other means in order to protect itself from things like UV-light, bugs and things that want to eat it. This protection comes from different kinds of polyphenols which are organic chemicals that have metabolic, toxic and therapeutic properties.

Harvesting tea leaves

Two of the most well known polyphenols in tea are called catechin and flavonoids. They are very powerful antioxidants, and have been used in many studies for cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention. So the plant, in this case tea, builds up a good defense mechanism for the environment where it lives so it can be strong and healthy. By drinking extracts from the tea plant (or drinking the entire leaves as in Matcha) we reap all of the benefits of the plants polyphenols. Pretty clever having the plants do all the work and we simply drink the benefits. We are for sure not the first ones to use this method to heal ourselves though, our animal friends in the wild already knows to eat certain types of plants to heal themselves from parasites or kill bacteria.

“If we can learn from animals that have used medicinal plants for millions of years, and then look at what they use it for, then we could learn interesting things,” de Roode says.[1]

Because each plant has a unique environment, it will build up a different combination of  beneficial polyphenols, from plant to plant. This is true for tea but also for all other plants. That is why, lets say an apple  that came from Sweden will taste different from an apple in Spain. They will also have a different polyphenol composition, even if it is the same type of apple. For this reason, it is very important to eat as many different types of vegetables and fruits as you can, to reap all of their different benefits and healing properties, and the same goes for drinking tea. Why limit yourself?

Checking out green tea in Japan.

Some of my favorite healing teas are Green Tea, Matcha, Pu’Erh, Oolong, and Yerba Mate. Here is a great overview of what’s what. Of course there are plenty of herbal teas as well that are excellent for health, such as mint, olive leaf, fennel, nettle, ginger, and chamomile  just to mention a few.

On a recent trip to Taiwan I had the opportunity to sample plenty of fantastic Oolong and Pu’Erh teas. The very best Oolong teas are all made in Taiwan and can only be bought in the country, as the locals are so fond of their oolong tea that they don’t want to export their top quality ones. I also had the chance to sample some really fancy old Pu’Erh teas from as far back as 1975! But, honestly I could not really tell a huge difference between the ages. What I did notice though was that the higher quality of the Pu’Erh, the sweeter and less earthy the taste.

 

I am carefully preparing green tea in a traditional outfit, on a trip in Japan.

We tend to be creatures of habit, so I would like to invite you to explore the amazing health benefits of drinking tea, and expand your tea horizon. Think of it as preventative and healing medicine that you can use daily. The next time you are out shopping, take the time to go into a proper tea shop and ask for help with finding a new tea. Just buy a small amount, and most important find out how you should brew your tea!

So many times I have friends who tell me that they don’t like drinking green tea, yet when they have it at my place they like it. That’s because a really high quality green tea should only be steeped in 70C for about 30s-1min. A lot of people leave it in a lot longer and/or use boiling water, and this makes the tea very bitter and quite nasty to drink. Don’t do that to yourself, or the tea!

Mixing teas has been known to be even more powerful – when the different organic chemicals interact their combined powers supersedes their individual ones. William Li mentions this is in his excellent TED talkCan we eat to starve Cancer?“. Tim Ferriss is also a fan of mixing teas and below is one of his morning versions.

Because many teas does contain caffeine (a diuretic), it is important to drink some water in between tea cups to stay well hydrated. I wish you a lot of fun in exploring the healing world of teas.

Wishing you all lots of creativitea and claritea! 😉

 

Tea Mind
Humilitea, Possibilitea, Qualitea, Solidaritea, Abilitea, Equalitea, Individualitea, Serenitea, Insanitea, Confidentialitea, Vitalitea, Creativitea, Sportea, Claritea, Realitea, Activitea, Longevitea, Impossibilitea, Familiaritea, Humanitea, Puritea, Levitea, Longevitea, Immunitea, Digestabilitea, Electricitea, Sensualitea, Femininitea, Festivitea…
~Letters to a Young Zentrepenur – The Republic of Tea

 

 

 


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16968850

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5492114/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28723689

[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4267359/

Photo by Danurwendho Adyakusuma, Paul-Vincent Roll,  蔡 嘉宇 on Unsplash

What is really in your tea bag? [part 2]

When we think of tea we think of something healthy and natural. However, from last weeks article we learned that it ain’t always so. Have you ever thought about what the actual tea bag that holds the tea is made of? Probably not, but after reading this article I think you just might.

Most often tea bags are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and food grade nylon. These substances are considered “two of the safest plastics on the scale of harmful leaching potential”[1] But, what I am wondering about is what happens to these plastics when put in boiling water and left to steep for a couple of minutes?

Both of the above plastics have a very high melting point, meaning that they will not brake down in boiling water. However, there is another temperature point for plastics that is called “glass transition” temperature (Tg), which we should pay attention to, and this is much lower than the melting point. It means that even though the PET plastic will not melt in boiling water, it will start to dissolve on a molecular level, and could leach out right into your tea cup.

“If the question is, ‘As the polymer goes through that transition state, is it easier for something to leach out?’, the answer is yes,” said Dr. Ray Fernando, professor and director of polymers and coatings at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.[2]

The big tea companies, such as Lipton, claim that it is safe to use these plastics in tea. But what about this study that showed that mineral water in a PET bottles “demonstrate a widespread contamination of mineral water with xenoestrogens that partly originates from compounds leaching from the plastic packaging material… Overall, the results indicate that a broader range of foodstuff may be contaminated with endocrine disruptors when packed in plastics.“[4] Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that mimic and interfere with our hormonal (endocrine) system, which can cause all sorts of problems within our bodies. And that is just from the PET bottle being in contact with the mineral water. What I want to know is, what happens when you put it in boiling water?!

Epichlorohydrin is another substance commonly used to treat tea bags, which makes the bags stronger and keeps them from breaking. According to Wikipedia ” In contact with water, epichlorohydrin (a highly reactive compound) hydrolyzes to 3-MCPD, a carcinogen found in food.”

The Environmental Protection Agency says drinking water with high levels of epichlorohydrin, over a long period of time, could cause stomach problems and an increased risk of cancer. For perspective: The E.P.A. allows up to 20 parts per million in drinking water, and epichlorohydrin-
containing bags may include 50 parts per billion. [3]

So, with this knowledge and still wanting to drink tea, what can we do? Inform yourself about the teas that you are already using and figure out what the bag is made of, and if the tea has been known to contain pesticides. Check out this article for more information. Dr.Mercola recommends us to “purchasing tea from manufacturers who can certify that their tea bags do not contain epichlorophydrin, and avoid plastic tea bags. Your best option is to opt for loose teaWhen selecting tea of any kind, it should preferably be organic (to avoid pesticides) and grown in a pristine environment (tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals and other toxins from soil and water, so a clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea).”[5]

I wish you a great weekend with a nice cup of loose leaf organic tea! 😉

 


[1,2] https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/04/are-tea-bags-turning-us-into-plastic/274482/

[3] http://www.cleanplates.com/eat/tips-eat/these-teas-are-toxin-free/

[4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19274472

[5] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/24/tea-bags.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epichlorohydrin

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19274472

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocrine_disruptor

https://foodbabe.com/2013/08/21/do-you-know-whats-really-in-your-tea/

Photo by:

Alisher Sharip

Filip Mroz

Drew Taylor

Tea, Cow Poop and Natural Flavors

Yes, you did read that right. Tea, cow poop and natural flavors have a lot more in common than you would ever have thought. How on earth did I ever end up making this connection? Well, last week I had a conversation with a friend about beverages and sugar content. At one point we landed on tea, and my friend said “well, at least I don’t have to worry about the tea I’m drinking, as it is all natural, right?”. Wrong! Unfortunately, you do need to worry if you care about what you are putting into your body, especially when it comes to tea in a bag.

Let’s start with natural flavors, what is it exactly? Well, it can be just about anything compiled of tons of different things, as long as it originally came from a natural source such as plants and animals. Read more about natural and artificial flavors here. The origin of a product very often used in natural flavors is called Castoreum, or in plain English beaver-butt. Hmm..beaver-butt in my tea? No, thanks!” Read more about it here, and check out the video below for more information.

Ok, so that’s pretty disgusting. But what does cow poop has to do with my tea? Well, as it is a natural source, it also goes under the disguised name “natural flavor”. Mayu Yamamoto, a Japanese scientist, managed to figure out a way to extract vanilla fragrance and flavoring from cow poop. It is a lot cheaper than using real vanilla. She actually won the lg Nobel Prize in Chemistry for it in 2007. You can read the long version here about her project, and the short version here. Yummy, beaver-butt and cow poop in my tea?

Checking up on what the European standards are,( most often they are the same as FDA’s), did not really help clarifying anything at all. According to the GUIDANCE DOCUMENT ON EC REGULATION ON FLAVOURING, Chapter IV, section 3.1.1 Natural flavouring substances:

Article 16.3:

The term “natural flavouring substance(s)” may only be used for flavourings in which the flavouring component contains exclusively natural flavouring substances.

So, whenever you read a food label on any kind of food or beverage, and you see that it contains natural flavorings, now you know that it can be just about anything ranging from beaver-butt to some type of sugar to cow poop. Also, when you read a food label, the ingredients are listed in the order with the largest amount of ingredient appearing first. Meaning that if you start reading the label for lets say peanut butter and it says: Sugar, sunflower oil, peanuts etc. Sugar would be the largest ingredient in that food product. Check it out the next time you buy something, it can be quite a revelation!

“Who knew that I would be the producer of the vanilla flavor in your ice-cream and other food products?”

So what can we do? Always check the label on anything that you buy, and find out which brands do not use natural flavors! In terms of tea, I recommend buying loose leaf tea. You can buy the empty tea bags separately and fill them up yourself, if that makes it more convenient, to use at work for example. PUKKA tea is one brand that I trust and that I use a lot when I am traveling.

Enjoy your weekend, and keep reading those labels!  😉

 


https://foodbabe.com/2013/09/09/food-babe-tv-do-you-eat-beaver-butt/

http://www.improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2008

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijce/2008/603957/

https://www.newscientist.com/blog/shortsharpscience/2006/03/vanilla-dung.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/facts-about-natural-and-artificial-flavors-2014-1?IR=T

http://effa.eu/eu-legislation/flavouring-regulation

http://www.effa.eu/docs/default-source/guidance-documents/effa_guidance-document-on-the-ec-regulation-on-flavourings.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Photo by Drew Taylor and Lydia Harper on Unsplash

 

 

 

Perspective On Success through Sergei Polunin

Sometimes you come across something or someone that reaches you on a deeper level and puts life in a bit of perspective. During recent travel I came across the documentary “Dancer” with Sergei Polunin, which did that for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Sergei Polunin has been quoted to be the best male dancer of his generation, and has been linked to the very greatest of all time such as Nureyev and Barysjnikov. Being such an amazing performer and dancer does not come from nothing though, and this is the part that is so often forgotten in the search for success.  What does it really mean to be successful, and how far are you, and the people around you willing to go to make “it” happen? And when “it” does happen, was it worth the cost?

At what should have been the very height of his career, Sergei decided to say goodbye to the world of professional dancing by performing one last dance, depicting his struggle with the decision, in the video “Take Me To Church”. That video instantly went viral, and suddenly his life took on an unexpected direction.

If you get the chance check out the movie as well.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend 😉


Poster for the film Dancer staring Sergei Polunin.
© West End Films.

Staying mobile above the clouds

As I am writing this I am midair somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Hanoi in Vietnam. It is my second longer flight in just a few days and how to prevent getting stiff from all that sitting and speed up recovery is on my mind.
So what can you do to help yourself? My all time favorite is to use the lacrosse ball for the hamstrings and part of the glutes (butt). With all that sitting, blood circulation is compromised, especially in the legs. This creates a lot of stiffness which  besides making you move like an old grandma also can have longer lasting effects on your hips and knees. This is due to muscles becoming tight and therefore restricting full extension of the hip and knee, for example being able to straighten the leg completely. If you don’t get this taken care of immediately then pretty soon you can end up with low back pain due to the altered way of moving.

How to avoid all of this stuff? Whenever you can – get up and move a bit extra. It is often said to walk around the cabin as much as you can, but I tend to find this very challenging. Instead I try to add in some squats (and lateral lunges if space permits) every time I get up and go to the bathroom. As a minimum I do 10 squats before and 10 squats after.

When you get back into your seat use the lacrosse ball. You might be able to use a tennis ball but I don’t recommend it as I find it too soft against the seat.
Put the lacrosse ball under one of your hamstrings and then do small, slow movements across the ball with your leg. You can also move your lower leg from side to side and back and forth. There really is no right and wrong here so just try a few different angles and see what works for you. Then after a minute or two move the ball to another area and go through the same procedure. Once you have worked your way through one hamstring move the ball to the next.

I like to do this while watching a movie, and during a 10-12 hour flight I tend to do this at least 4 times. It is a huge help and as you only do small movements with the leg you are not jeopardizing to disturb your fellow passenger, which is a plus.

Of course you can do this on shorter flights too, or actually during any prolonged sitting. I have used this technique during long lectures for instance. Keeping the blood circulation as good as possible in your legs is also very important in preventing blood clots forming. You can read more about that here. I also find that compression socks are a great help. Make sure that you get some good ones that fit you correctly so that they are tight enough but not so tight that they are completely constricting you. You don’t want to feel as if an anaconda is eating its way up your leg! By measuring the width of your calf you should be able to find the right size for you.

The Using the lacrosse ball technique on my hamstrings have really saved me on many long flights so if there is just one thing you should try for your next flight, then try that.

Wishing you happy travel adventures 😉

 

Here is a motivational video for some more mobility on your next flight.


Air travel health tips from Harvard
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/air-travel-health-tips

 

I ran 33 marathons last year by changing one thing – care to join me?

 “And wouldn’t you like to have the answer to these questions too while we are at it?”
How can I have less back pain?
What can I do to be smarter at work?
What can I do to get more oxygen into my lungs?
What can I do to burn more calories during a day outside of sport?
What can I do to help my digestive organs?
What can I do to help my blood circulation?
What does Ludacris, James Brown, Blue, Elton John, and Bob Marley have to do with this?

What if I told you that all of these questions have the same answer, including making me run 33 marathons? And that it all can be summarized right here by Ludacris in the first 10 seconds of his video:

Yes, that’s right, Ludacris knows what’s up. James Brown was right too when he told us to “get up offa that thing”. According to the book Deskbound there are a lot of reasons why sitting is bad for us, but the top two reasons are

“1. Sitting is an orthopedic disaster and can cause a myriad of body dysfunctions.
2. Sitting means that you are not moving, and being sedentary can have significant negative long-term health impacts.”

The perfect orthopedic storm (click for diagram)
We need to sit less and stand more, and the office is an excellent place to practice this. And if we do sit, we need to sit on the floor like a yogi, or on our knees, or in other positions where we are challenging our mobility, not locked into a hip-glued-stuck at 90 degrees because of excessive sitting. Our homes are an excellent place to practice this “new” way of sitting.

“A standing desk sounds great, but my office won’t supply one, so there is nothing I can do” is the most common comment that I get when this subject arises. Well I happen to disagree with this. First, I do have to say that I think that ALL work places should have the option of a standing desk. It is an investment in their employees health, one that will pay itself back during the long run for sure.

However, lets say that you work in one of these places that will not help you with a full on electric adjustable desk. Get creative and think outside the box! Don’t just give up, it is your health that we are talking about. Give this article to your HR department to give them feedback on what you and your department finds really important, and ask for their help. These days there are also a lot of really easy add-ons to a normal desk that makes it into a standing desk, that are not very expensive. Maybe your office can invest in that? Maybe you can go half-half? Check this out for inexpensive ideas or just google “stand up desk ideas”.

You should also think about the desk or work space you use at home, especially if you have kids. Help them to stay mobile as much as possible, and why not get them a standing desk? The Stand Up Kids Foundation is such a great project, and you should check it out even if you don’t have kids as there is so much useful information there. Listen to the podcast Pursuing Health with Julie Foucher episode #17 where she, Juliet and Kelly Starrett talks about standing vs sitting, and their latest project.

-Ok, so I also would like to have the ability to run 33 marathons in a year, how can I do that?
You automatically burn more calories standing than sitting. If you were to simply stand during normal office hours over the course of a year, you will burn approximately 100 000 extra calories. For a roughly average person running a marathon they would burn about 3300 calories. So, by the simple act of standing while working you have now burnt as many calories as if you had run 33 marathons in a year. Pretty nifty if you ask me!

-How can I have less back pain?

“Workers who used sit-stand desks were 78% more likely to report a pain-free day than those who used regular workstations, according to a Stanford University back pain study. “(A)

-What can I do to help the internal functions of my body?
-What can I do to get more oxygen into my lungs?
-What can I do to help my digestive organs?

Excessive sitting impacts our body’s metabolic system: “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.”(B) ~ James Levine, MD, PhD

By standing you will improve the amount of oxygen that gets into your body, by not squashing your lungs while sitting, this also improves the blood circulation as it doesn’t get “cut off” from the pressure around your waist and hips. Less pressure around the stomach area and good blood supply also helps our digestive organs function properly.

-What can I do to be smarter?

Our brains work better with well oxygenated blood which it will get from standing, moving and standing up also activates different areas in the brain that makes us “smarter”. (C) The area responsible for movement is for example close to our memory area in the brain. That means that when our movement center gets activated our memory center gets activated too by close proximity. This is why kids will jump up and down while talking for instance as it is then easier for them to find their words. Also, think about it, when you get a very important phone call, will you stand up and pace around or will you sit down? I am 100% sure that you will be standing up.

Is standing at work the total solution for all your health problems? Of course not, that would be too easy unfortunately. It is however a great and super easy way to minimize the damage you are doing to yourself and stopping the process of your hips being completely glued stuck from a sitting position.

Remember to start gradually and wearing flat shoes or preferably none. Maybe you want to start with standing up first thing when you get into the office, and right after lunch for as long as you find comfortable. If you cannot see yourself standing all the time, try to think of it as interrupted sitting. Change does take time, so keep working on it, and try to avoid long stretches of sitting as much as you can. Ladies, if you are wearing heels, you need to take them off while standing, because they throw your hips into an awkward position no matter how fancy they are due to the angle of the heel. Maybe you can have a pair of flat shoes under your desk and just change for your meetings if need be?

Bob Marley tells us to “get up, stand up”, and Elton John says “I’m still standing”. But, amazingly enough Blue summarizes it perfectly with “All rise, all rise – I rest my case”.

 

I am already on “marathon #5 for this year, where are you?  😉

 


Resources

  1. A. http://www.juststand.org/tabid/636/language/en-US/default.aspx
  2. B. http://www.juststand.org/tabid/816/language/en-US/default.aspx
  3. C. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3546096/Standing-class-makes-children-SMARTER-Pupil-s-brain-boost-spend-lessons-feet.html
  4. Benefits of a Standing Desk https://authoritynutrition.com/7-benefits-of-a-standing-desk/

Books

  • Get Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett
  • Deskbound by Kelly Starrett
  • Don’t just sit there by Katy Bowman
  • Move your DNA by Katy Bowman

P.S. Here is an inspirational Stand Up playlist

  • Get up – Ciara ft. Chamillionaire
  • Stand up – Ludacris ft. Shawnna
  • Get up, stand up – Bob Marley
  • The real slim shady (please stand up) – Eminem
  • Get up, stand up – Phunky Phantom
  • I’m still standing – Elton John
  • Still standing – Monica ft.Ludacris
  • Get up offa that thing – James Brown
  • Get up – 50 cent
  • Sax – Fleur East (ok, ok she doesn’t talk about standing up, but this song should be enough motivation for you to get out of your chair and stand up, especially on a Friday! “C’mon give it to me”)