Our body is made up of different complex systems. Therefore, you shouldn’t necessarily single out and look at the importance of just the one organ. But, in this case I believe we can.
Our amazing liver has more than 500 different functions in the body! If the liver is not able to work as it should, all of the functions that it is involved with will suffer. Other organs will try to pick up the slack for a while, but ultimately they will fail. This over time can make our bodies completely exhausted and sick.
I believe that it’s hard to take good care of something that we don’t understand. So, why not get a little better familiar with our super hero the liver? This short video gives an excellent summary of what’s going on. And if you are new to this blog, you can read a bit more about the liver here and here.
Let’s keep on learning to better understand our body! 😉
Certain foods can really benefit from some quick preparation, such as soaking. It makes the food (such as legumes and grains) much easier to digest, gets rid of the stuff we don’t want and enhances our absorption of their nutrients. It only takes about 2 minutes and a little bit of planning ahead, and that’s it!
So, why is soaking so beneficial? What would you do if all of a sudden out in the distance you saw a big wolf coming charging at you? I bet you would run away as fast as you could and take cover. Phew! That was scary, but now you are safe.
Well, what do you do if you are a plant? As the plant does not have the ability to run away to avoid the predator, it has to choose a different method. Chemical warfare! When plants are being eaten or attacked, lets say by insects, it changes its chemical structure around the area that was just bitten into to protect itself. It will taste more bitter to the animal, and maybe after a few bites the animal will leave the plant alone.
This is also why a fresh vegetable that hasn’t been damaged in transportation, will taste so much sweeter than a vegetable that has been banged up in transport. The vegetable is simply trying to protect itself. One year we had brussel sprouts in our garden, and a friend of mine liked eating them so much she decided to buy some at the store later that week. Unfortunately though, she told me that they had tasted so bitter that she really didn’t like them. That is how big of a difference plant chemical warfare can make.
Plants also protect their seeds with a layer of phytic acid. For us humans the phytate can irritate the lining of the gut, and also prevent the absorption of some minerals. All legumes, seeds, nuts and grains have this natural protective layer. We can usually handle a small amount of phytic acid, but not a lot. This is why some people experience a lot of extra gas or abdominal discomfort after having eaten beans for instance. The digestive system has a hard time with the phytic acid and so the beans do not get digested very well. When the beans enter the lower intestine the oligosaccharides (sugar) start to ferment there. Hence all the discomfort and gas.
Enter soaking! I will use lentils in this example. When we soak lentils in water before cooking them, the phytic acid gets broken down, and so it is much easier for us to digest. If you add a splash of apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice to the water you will enhance the process of breaking down the phytic acid even further.
An added bonus to this is that it is actually very inexpensive to buy organic dry lentils, and they will double in volume after soaking. It is also very easy to store them at home, so you could buy them in bulk to save even more. Lentils are also very nutrient dense and full of protein so it is a great addition to any diet. Having soaked the lentils also cuts down on the cooking time, so you will be even more efficient in the kitchen.
Soaking – what’s not to like?!
How to prepare the lentils The night before: Rinse your lentils well, and cover with plenty of water, and a dash of apple cider vinegar. The lentils will double in size so make sure you use a large bowl/pot. You could of course also start in the morning and cook them at night. Try to get at least +8h of soaking time.
The next morning: Pour out the old water and give the lentils a quick rinse with clean water. Put the lentils in a pot and cover them with plenty of water. *Exp.level; Add Kombu.
Put a lid on the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the lentils are tender. You want tender and not mushy. This takes approximately 10 min, depending a bit on which type of lentil you are using. Red and yellow lentils are usually very quick to cook (5min), and green/brown takes about 10min.
*Expert level: Add a piece of kombu to the lentils. Kombu is a large seaweed that has an amazing ability to neutralize some of the gas-producing compounds in the lentils. This is especially good when cooking beans, as beans have a tougher shell than the lentils. The Kombu will also expand in size, so a small piece will go a long way. Discard after cooking.
If you are using it with beans, take it out after about 45min of cooking otherwise it will be all mushy and hard to separate from the beans.
This Instagram post by Coach Ben Bergeron is just too good not to share. It just sums up so much in one picture. I really don’t think that I have to add anything to it. Hopefully this will provoke some good head-work, and help you to evaluate your own situation, whether in sports, relationships or work.
“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”
“We cannot all do great things in life, but we can do small things with great love.”
Whether or not this is your favorite or most crazy time of the year, why not take a deep breath and stop for just a moment. Hug someone you care about, and let’s be thankful for all the things we already have.
Among many things, I am very thankful for all of you who make the time in your busy lives to read my blog. It means a lot to me, so thank you!
I wish you a holiday season well spent, no matter how long or short, with people you care about.
Big Holiday Hugs all around! 😉
Photo by freestocks.org, Denys Nevozhai, Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Are you holding your breath again? It is that time of the year where everyone is trying to wrap up all of those loose ends and finish the year with some amazing accomplishments. At least so that it looks like it on paper, am I right? That together with very busy holiday plans tend to push a lot of people into high stress mode. Staying in this stressed mode, where the sympathetic nervous system is in charge (fight or flight) creates a lot of tension. If you don’t have a method for relieving some of that inner tension, you may feel like the pressure is about to make you explode.
In order to relieve some pressure and get out of the fight and flight mode, we need to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system. A really easy way to do that is to use your breath. By something as simple as taking 3 deep breaths, you can calm your over active nervous system and get it to relax. Breathe in through your nose, let your lungs fill up completely, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth.
Someone I know uses this technique every time she has to stop at a red light while driving. Instead of getting worked up about “loosing time” she uses it as an opportunity to work on her breath. It is such a simple thing to do, but it really can make a huge change to your day.
If you have a little more time, (maybe you are standing in line waiting to pay for your groceries), try to see if you can make it all the way up to 10 breaths, and then count backwards with each breath until you get back to 0. In my head it would sound something like this “one, I breathe in – one, I breathe out, two…”. You get the picture. Again, it is very simple, but oh so effective. This can be a great technique to try as well if you have problems falling asleep.
If you feel like trying a 2 minute super easy meditation, then check out this video with Andy Puddicombe.
I am also a big fan of meditation and this is one of my favorite apps. You can check out my previous blog about meditation right here.
In terms of nutrition you can help your nervous system by keeping your blood sugar as steady as possible. For example, when you eat sugar, quick carbs and drink caffeine, these things all stimulate your nervous system to be in the fight and flight mode. That makes it so much harder for us to relax. So, if you feel the pressure building up try to stay away from these processed sugary types of foods as much as possible, and focus on whole nutrient dense foods instead.
I know I talk a lot about hydration but it cannot be emphasized enough! Make sure that you properly hydrate, especially between all the extra holiday drinks. Your liver and body will thank you.
Doing some exercise is also a great idea. If you don’t have time for a full session, try to get some simple movement into your day, like walking. It doesn’t always have to be strenuous to be doing you some good.
Do what you can, when you can. Every little piece helps. Have a great weekend! 😉
Photo by Gabriel Matula, Ben White, Afonso Coutinho and Ethan Sykes on Unsplash
You have probably read about the importance of core values, both for business and in your personal life. Maybe you have even done a workshop on the topic. Identifying your core values is one thing. But, what are you doing on a daily basis to put them into action, so that your core values will truly become a part of you?
“What are you doing on a daily basis to put them into action, so that your core values will truly become a part of you?”
For most people I think we get stuck at the slogan version, “have integrity” “be kind” “work hard” and so on. The slogan version both sounds and looks good. But, it doesn’t say anything about how to implementthat value on a daily basis. If you don’t have a clear daily map to guide you, how will you ever get to where you want to go? The difference is thinking that the top of the mountain probably looks good, compared to making it all the way up the mountain and enjoying the actual view. I think this key component is missed by most of us.
-Are you stuck at the “Slogan version”?
Excellent coaches are hard to come by, and I am always very happy when I find one that I think is worth listening to. Ben Bergeron belongs in that group, and I hope that this podcast will make you think about your core values and most importantly – how to implement them into daily actions. Even a small action put on rinse, wash, repeat will make a big impact given enough time.
The question just recently came up from one of my new clients. “Why do I feel so tired after a sports massage?” It was her first session of a sports/deep tissue massage in a very long time, and she was in bed by 9pm that night. If it’s your first time in a while since a sports massage this might often be the case. It will get better after a few sessions, as the body starts cleaning out the gunk that has been stored in it for so long. Gunk, what gunk?
Stored gunk We store heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants and other toxins in the fatty tissue in our bodies. When there is an overexposure of these toxins, or the liver is under too much stress for other reasons, it cannot clear out all the toxins right away. As a protective mechanism the body then stores these toxins in the fatty tissue. This may be a good short term strategy, but with all the toxins that we are faced with everyday, we just keep accumulating toxins in our fatty tissues. The liver is under constant pressure to catch up with all the cleaning. This is on top of all the usual waste products that the liver has to clean up as well, like for instance lactic acid.
A thorough deep cleaning
As you are getting a sports massage, it’s in a way like a deep spring cleaning of your house. You will find dirt you didn’t know about and it will take some effort to get the house cleaned. Going deep into the tissues will help liberate stored toxins and waste products and get it out of storage and into the bloodstream. From there it gets transported to the liver, who can safely disassemble them and make sure the garbage leaves our body through the urine and poop.
It gets worse before it gets better
I had a client who used to smoke a lot and had recently quit, and the first couple of times she felt really nauseous after the massage. This was due to the built up of toxins from years of smoking that now were released out of the fatty tissues and into the bloodstream. As the toxins enters the bloodstream, it can make you feel worse at first, before the liver can take care of it. For the body it is like you just ingested all those toxins again.
Another client works as a painter and is constantly in contact with toxic fumes. Changing his line of work is not an option, even though from a body-toxicity exposure that would be better. Instead he has created a preventative strategy that works very well for him. On a regular basis he goes to the sauna, gets deep tissue massage, runs a couple of times a week, stays well hydrated and takes herbal supplements to support his liver. Twice a year he does a week of detoxification as well.
“It is unrealistic to think that we can all change our work or where we live based on the amount of toxicity that we are exposed too. But, we can certainly have an influence on how well the body is prepared to deal with it all.” 
It takes a lot of work and energy for the liver to deal with all the extra cleaning that comes from the toxins that just entered the bloodstream. By getting a deeper treatment you are helping the body to start the process of self-healing through detoxification and an increased blood circulation. Therefore it is very common to feel extra tired due to the energy expended.
From my experience, the better shape your body is in all around, the less tired you will be. Feeling relaxed after a massage, which you should be, is different from being tired. The life of your liver is very much like being M-O, and you are the one that keeps bringing in the dirt. So, take very good care of M-O. Help him out by bringing in as little dirt as possible, as he is doing his very best continuously taking care of you!
It is common to feel extra tension for 1-2 days in some areas of the body that felt very tight during the massage. After the very first couple of sessions you may even feel it for a few more days, but that should subside as your body gets used to the treatment. You should not have any bruises after a sports or deep tissue massage. If that happens let your massage therapist know so that they can adjust their work with you accordingly.
Make sure you are hydrated before the treatment and hydrate well after. It is the quickest way to make sure that the body has enough fluids to easily transport and disassemble all of the gunk that is coming out of storage. You will help the body to recover quickly and you are making it easy for M-O (the liver) to do his job. If you are, or know that you have been exposed to a lot of toxins, it might also be a good idea to support your liver with some herbal supplements.
Take good care of M-O and have a great weekend! 😉
quote from Nathalie Visser
Photo by Jeremy Bishop, Hernan Sanchez, Pan Xiaozhen, Tim Mossholder and Matt Hoffman on Unsplash
Completing a task is easy, right? You set out a goal, and line up some intermediate steps to get you there. It’s just like walking up the stairs, taking one step at a time, and –voila– you are there. Mission completed. Well, if it is that easy, how come so many of us are still procrastinating? Did you start the new hydration plan yet? Did you go out running, or go to the gym like you had planned? Did you do your mobility exercises? And so on…so what gets in the way?
Wanting, planning or actually doing?
Wanting to do something, and even planning for it is very different to actually getting it done. Too often the instant gratification monkey takes over, and the rational decision maker is no longer in control of where we are going. It is not until the Panic Monster has been activated that we are able to deactivate the monkey.
What am I talking about?!
Tim Urban explains in his humorous and enlightening TED talk how a procrastinators brain work, and what all of these characters has to do with it. And, since we are all procrastinators on one level or another this means that he is talking about you and me…
Ok, so I recognize myself in this. Now what?
Be sure to set a deadline for your goal, this allows the Panic Monster to keep the instant gratification monkey quiet. Tell a friend about it, or even better, get a friend to join you, because this keeps you accountable. Then make the task not seem too daunting by dividing it into smaller pieces. Tim has written about it here in his blog as well.
Here is an easy example. Goal: To drink 3 Liters of water, with added salt, per day, in 3 weeks.
If you are currently only drinking 1 Liter, 3 Liter a day will seem almost unimaginable. But, can you start your day with 1 big glass of water? Sure!
That is a very attainable step, and to remind yourself to get it done in the early morning, place the cup somewhere where you cannot miss it the night before. Easy!
After a couple of days, maybe your next step is to add drinking a big glass of water as soon as you get home. Again, no big deal, and this is an easy habit to adopt. Well, if you are using a large cup, or glass by now you have almost added a Liter of water to your day, and it was easy, right? Just continue down that path, and you will reach your goal swiftly without even having to activate the Panic Monster.
Wishing you a great weekend – where the instant gratification monkey won’t take over too much of your valuable time 😉
Photo credit to Sander Smeekes, Ethan Sykes and Benjamin Dada on Unsplash
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 talk “Can 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
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” 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.
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.“ 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. 
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 tea…When 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).”
I wish you a great weekend with a nice cup of loose leaf organic tea! 😉