The Super Hero

I had a lovely morning talking with my daughter and she has inspired some blogs. Here’s the first one, before I forget everything she told me!

“I don’t understand. You get these people who go vegan, but they haven’t done their research and they aren’t eating properly, and they get sick, and then instead of fixing up their diet, they just decide veganism is bad for them and they stop altogether. Where’s the sense in that?

It’s like being a super hero and burning out because you are saving too many people and doing it all night when you should be sleeping. So you go to the doctor and you ask him for advice and he says ‘Oh you should stop being a super hero, it’s bad for you’.

If you really loved helping and saving people, you wouldn’t accept a lame kind of response like that. You’d think ‘This doctor is useless. If he was a decent doctor, he’d say ‘Let me help you organise your time and energy better, and set some limits on how much work you do and when, so that you can keep doing what you love’.” Continue reading

Injury healing and tissue repair- Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the role of inflammation in wound repair and the management of inflammation. Part 2 is about tissue perfusion. A lot of this information is applicable for preventing tissue damage in the first place and explores practises that ensure better recovery. Injuries, wounds etc obviously come in many different forms, so this information is general only.

What are tissues? Tissues are groups of cells that are bound together or are working together as a team to do a special job. You could think of cells as being the bricks in the house, and tissues as being the walls i.e. the bricks/cells combine together to form the walls/tissues. Just as cells combine to create tissues, tissues combine to create organs. Using our house building analogy, an organ would be a group of walls working together to become a room! And all of our organs working together as a team are the equivalent of the house as a whole.

Good tissue perfusion is a good blood supply to the tissues. Good tissue perfusion is really helpful when it comes to repairing wounds and/or reducing excess inflammation. When enough blood is being delivered to our body tissues, the cells in our tissues are being nourished with nutrients and oxygen from our blood. As well as delivering what the cells need to survive and thrive, our blood also helps to remove waste products from the tissues and cells, which is just as important for maintaining healthy tissue and cellular function. Continue reading

Injury healing and tissue repair – Part 1

 Managing inflammation

Inflammation is often what causes pain but it’s important to understand that inflammation is the bodies attempt to repair a wound and resolve or prevent infection. When there is a broken bone or broken skin, inflammation is the magical process that helps knit everything back together again.

A little bit of inflammation is natural and helpful, but quite often when it comes to healing, it can help to dampen the inflammation process slightly, because our Western/modern diet and lifestyle tends to tip inflammation into overdrive or to steer it in unhelpful directions that hinder rather than help healing.

In some scenarios, inflammation is a natural response to irritation and friction. For example, in osteoarthritis the loss of friction-avoiding, shock-absorbing cartilage means that bones start to touch and rub against each other. This causes inflammation. Friction-based inflammation can occur on a day-to-day basis when we neglect our posture, put too much pressure on the musculoskeletal system by being overweight or ignore injuries and continue to aggravate them rather than resting and getting help to recover properly. One of the most important things you can do to prevent inflammation is to avoid sitting too much, pushing your body too hard, and engaging in repetitive physical movements that result in wear and tear of specific muscles and joints. Continue reading

Neuralgia

I was recently asked to talk about neuralgia by one of the members in our group “Ask the Vegan Naturopath”. Whenever my replies are longer than a few paragraphs, I prefer to turn them into blogs. 

Neuralgia is nerve pain, tingling and/or pins and needles from inflamed or damaged nerves.

Each client is treated as an individual and remedies are chosen that suit each unique case. The first thing to consider is the underlying cause, if it can be identified. Is the problem being caused by something structural in the musculoskeletal system tied in with injury or bad habits like poor posture and sitting too much? Is it damage caused by too much alcohol or drugs, or by too much glucose in the blood? Other causes might be too much artificial supplemented vitamin B6 or some kind of environment poisoning eg arsenic, mercury, lead, organo-phosphate residues from weed-killers and so on. An example of a nutrient deficiency that might cause nerve pain is vitamin B12 deficiency. Nerve pain can also be caused by infections like shingles. And the list goes on! Continue reading

B12 update

I’ve been doing some research into vegan B12 options, and as always, it sinks in how little we really know, how much more we have to learn, and the uncertainties of it all. I can tell you what science has worked out so far, but remember that everything is always changing as new evidence comes to light. Science is, and always will be, an incomplete art: we cannot know what we don’t know, or where the blind spots in our vision are, and without this understanding, we are always going to be seeing only part of the big picture. Continue reading

Eating disorders and vegan/vegetarian diets

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while, and now feels like the right time. Essentially, what I’m doing here is simply sharing some brilliant information from the “Weighty Matter’s” chapter of one of my favourite books, ‘Becoming Vegan’, written by vegan dieticians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. It really does pay to source vegan dietary support from people who actually specialise in this field, and these two women are two of the best! Brenda is a leader in her field and an internationally acclaimed speaker. Past chairperson of the Vegetarian Dietetic Practise Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brenda has written more than eight books and is the lead dietitian in a diabetes research project in Majuro, Marshall Islands. Vesanto taught nutrition at the University of British Columbia and Bastyr University in Seattle, co-authored the joint-position paper on vegetarian diets for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dieticians of Canada and is a consultant to the government of British Columbia.

As the authors point out in their “Weighty Matter’s” chapter, there are many experts who believe that vegan and vegetarian diets can increase the risk of eating disorders and some treatment centres will force a reintroduction of meat into the diet as part of the recovery process. These ideas are based on data from 1997-2009 that reported significantly higher rates of disturbed eating among the vegetarian population in comparison to non-vegetarians. And the statistics are significant: approximately 50% of adolescents and young women with anorexia nervosa eat some form of vegetarian diet whereas only 6-34% of their non-anorexic peers eat a vegetarian diet.

The problem with these statistics lays in the way they are interpreted: we can’t look at them and simply assume that vegan and vegetarian diets lead to anorexia. Quite the contrary, research has shown that people with eating disorders adopt vegetarian diets, “using them to facilitate calorie restriction and legitimise the removal of high-fat, high-calorie animal products, and processed or fast foods made with these products.” In other words, the vegetarian or plant-based diet becomes a ‘front’ and can easily mask an existing eating disorder. This has been referred to as “pseudo vegetarianism.” Continue reading

The Zebra-Fish Story

(I wrote this in February 2014:)

I’ve been waiting for the right time, the right mood…. to write this story and I think today is it. I’ve just spent the last month ‘melting’, feeling as though I’m becoming slightly unhinged in my rawness while all the time knowing that a deep transformational and vital shift is occurring inside me. I’m surrendering.

In surrendering, it feels good to revisit those other ‘moments’ in my life when all I could do was surrender. Those other turning points where I came apart at the seams in a very unsettling way. When I think back to those moments, they have all enriched my life by stripping back layers of crap that weren’t really me. The Zebra-Fish story was one of those moments. Continue reading

Caramel Icecream

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This is one of the quickest and easiest desserts you can make. I don’t measure things much so these are approximations: taste as you go!

*Peel and freeze 1 banana overnight

*Remove the banana from the freezer and put it in your blender/food processor. You can break it up into smaller pieces if you let it defrost slightly.

*Add 1-2 heaped tablespoons of nut butter… like tahini, almond, or cashew paste for example. I used brazil, cashew and almond spread in this one!

*Add 4 dates (pitted). If this isn’t sweet enough you can add a sprinkle of stevia (or extra dates!)

*Add a pinch of salt

*Blend everything together and abracadabra, you have caramel ice-cream!

Oh, and you can sprinkle it with cacao nibs to make it look pretty at the end, like I have. xxx

Banana Walnut Cake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATHE BASE

7 medjool dates

3 medjool dates soaked in water overnight

2 cups of brazil nuts soaked in water overnight

Combine the ingredients in a food processor and blend them together. I prefer a little chunkiness to my mix, but you can keep going until it becomes smoother if you like. Spread this mixture over the bottom of a cake tin. (the kind with sides that spring open when you are ready to release the cake!)


THE BODY

3 peeled bananas

2 cups of walnuts soaked overnight

1/2 cup of sunflower seeds

1/2 vanilla pod

1/4 cup of coconut oil

Add all of the ingredients (except for two of the bananas) to a food processor and blend until relatively smooth. Spoon half of this mix onto the previously prepared base. Then cut one of the bananas up and press the pieces into this layer. When down, add the rest of the mix. Smooth the surface and cut up the third banana, pressing it into the surface. Add a few pieces of walnut to complete the decoration, then put in the freezer to set overnight and eat the next day.