12 Dec 11
MEDICAL HERBALIST GET LUCY STEPHENS OFFERS SOME SIMPLE NATURAL TIPS
ON HOW TO FEEL HEALTHY AND LOOK RADIANT
If your Christmas and New Year means overeating, drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough sleep you will no doubt wake up in January 2012 wondering why your clothes are a bit tighter, your skin looks sallow and you are feeling generally under the weather! But never fear, medical herbalist Lucy Stephens has some great tips for simple things you can do to take care of your insides so that you look healthier and more radiant on the outside.
Give your gut a helping hand and ease your digestion with some bitter herbs such as dandelion, burdock, and chamomile. These can activate bitter receptors on the tongue which in turn stimulate the digestive system. See if you can find loose leaf tea from specialised tea shops or health-food shops. Combine these herbs and steep 2 tablespoons in hot water. Strain and drink 1 cup half an hour before eating. Also take a daily probiotic which can help improve the transit time of the bowel and allow beneficial bacteria to flourish which help break down food in the intestines. Reducing sugar intake and regular exercise will also help with bloating and constipation.
*Do not use bitter herbs if you are prone to heartburn or acid reflux as the bitter principles in the herbs may irritate
Steamy sessions are a great solution if you have been overindulging which can put a strain on the liver as it works to try and detoxify the body. One of the best ways to start a body cleanse is to sweat in a sauna or have a hot yoga session. Both of these can help eliminate some of the toxins that accumulate in the body during periods of overindulgence! Studies have shown detoxification of some heavy metals which are present in the air, drinking water, cosmetics and medicines, is possible with sauna use, as well as improvements in mood and cardiovascular health and reduction in pain symptoms for people with joint problems or arthritis. Try 10 minutes in a sauna 3 times a week or alternatively give a hot yoga session a go. *Saunas should not be used by people with unstable heart conditions, fevers or in early pregnancy
Immune system boost with Algae – Chlorella and Spirulina are microscopic plants or forms of algae. They contain vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll and lots of phytochemicals. Studies have shown its use in boosting the immune system, detoxifying the body from environmental chemicals, and as an antioxidant. *1 gram daily is a good everyday dose.
Skin – if your skin needs a pep-me-up, try the following creams – Chamomile which is soothing and anti-inflammatory; Aloe Vera – the polysaccharides form a soothing and protective coating on the skin and is useful for irritated skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis; Calendula is also anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and is used traditionally for skin health. All can be found in pre-prepared skin formulations or alternatively buy separately from health food stores.
Eat your fruit and juice your veg – many of us are lacking in vitamins and minerals, particularly when our diets are low in vegetables. Starting your day with a vegetable juice is a great way of getting the nutrients you need. Raw vegetables also contain lots of enzymes which are needed for digestive functions in the body, and are usually lost when the vegetables are cooked. As juicing breaks down the vegetables it means you get quicker absorption of the nutrients, which is why it is better to avoid juicing fruit as the sugar it contains gets into the bloodstream too quickly giving you a sugar rush. Try using any vegetables you would eat raw and focus on the green vegetables such as celery, cucumber, kale, lettuce, parsley, coriander. Adding some lemon and a little ginger is also nice. Once you’ve made your juice, drink it straight away otherwise it starts to oxidise and the nutrients break down. If you don’t have a juicer, you could try blending the vegetables instead to make a smoothie adding avocado to make it creamy. Alternatively many health food shops have counters where you can buy a juice on your way to work.