HEALTH & BALANCE

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14 FOODS TO GET YOU IN SHAPE FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

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As the romantic scent of Valentine’s Day is filling in the air and the shops are starting to bombard us with love hearts and fluffy teddies, screaming ‘‘Hug me’, ‘‘I am yours’, many of us may still not feel prepared for the frenzy of this day.

Just over a week till its magic entirely hits us, it always seems to be a day when even if you are not in a relationship, you start questioning your love life trying to find ways to improve it. Meanwhile, some girls make promises to get into perfect shape and record this as part of their Valentine’s present. Whatever the reason, it is proven that a fresh start or a relationship rejuvenation require you to prepare your body for that change.  Therefore, I believe the way to freshness and energising starts with purifying your body, cleansing it from all bad habits.

In this post, referring to my own experience I want to offer you my 14 Best Foods for a great start of February, 14th.  I have also listed the places where you can find some of the ingredients, along with my favourite recipes.

1 . Citrus Fruits

Fruits detox

  • Lemons – aid the restoration of the body’s acid-alkali balance, keeping your insides at a steady pH. This means that your body is better able to support healthy bacteria and assist the removal of environmental and dietary toxins. Try drinking the juice of one lemon in a mug of hot water before breakfast to aid digestions. Use it as a salad dressing as well, instead of vinegar – some great bitterness, packed with vitamin C. You can even try to eat it separately with a bit of honey for an extra metabolism uplift.

  • Grapefruit and Kiwiboth metabolism-boosting, their high vitamin C attacks free radicals and eliminate the body toxins. Try as a snack or with yoghurt. Their sour taste goes well with protein-rich foods, such as cheese and fish as it provides the enzymes necessary to digest them.

2. Berries – beat 39 other fruits and vegetables in their antioxidant power.Goji berries

  • Acai berries – one of the most potent forms of antioxidants in the world – and powerful metabolism boosters. Antioxidants protect the body from the over-production of free radicals – chemicals which can cause damage to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and DNA in the body.

  • Goji berries – the husky red fruits, which can often be found in a dried form in health food shops, are like little bombs of vitamins, iron and beta carotene – a compound which has been linked to aiding the body fight cancer and heart disease. Pick up a bag as a healthy afternoon snack, or sprinkle a handful over your porridge cereal in the morning for a serious antioxidant boost.

3. Green vegetables

  • Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and leaves like spinach and kale, are not only high in dietary fibre, which aids digestion and therefore the excretion of toxins, but also contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, iron, beta carotene and calcium, all of which are essential nutrients, aiding the body’s natural detoxification process. To get the most out of your vegetables, eat them raw in a salad or boil them lightly. Be careful not to soak them in too much water as it absorbs the majority of their vitamin content. I use a microwave box for stewing which can be found very cheap in Asda . Do not overeat on broccoli and sprouts though as they may lead to bloating and gases.
  • Asparagus is a diuretic, and can help your body get rid of unwanted toxins faster. It is also great at reducing bloating and inflammation in the digestive system, so get steaming for a flatter tummy in a flash.

4. The Kissers’ Favourite Vegetables

  • Garlic – It might cause your love one to keep a distance for a bit, but there’s no denying the good garlic will do for your health. Each clove is packed not just with toxin-battling antioxidants, but also a naturally occurring chemical called allicin. When digested, allicin reacts with the blood to create a product capable of killing off many harmful bacteria and viruses that your body may be harbouring. Garlic is also thought to be effective in lowering cholesterol, regulating blood pressure and encouraging a healthy heart. Add a finely chopped raw clove to a salad, or pop into a hot meal toward the end of cooking time to make the most out of it. And a little secret to combat the breath effect – chew some coffee beans or parsley and you get a free and healthy teeth clean.
  • Onions – particularly red and green ones – are packed with sulphur-containing amino acids, which help your body to flush toxins out of your system by making them water soluble. They also contain the building blocks for an essential liver compound called glutathione, which it needs in order to carry out your body’s natural detoxification process. Fry some in a coconut oil (the best oil for frying as it has a high smoking point and hence it won’t cause heat toxins on your food but give it a nice sweet flavour). If you include it in fatty meals it also reduces cholesterol levels.

5. Antioxidant Teas

  • White Tea – when it comes to cleansing, white tea is definitely a number one choice. White tea is made from the young bud of the tea plant, which is when the leaves are at their most potent. The leaves are then dried naturally, helping to preserve their natural properties. As such, white tea is incredibly high in polyphenols, antioxidants used to fight off free radicals in the body and catechins have been found to reduce cholesterol in the body. Swop out your usual builder’s brew for a cup and allow the cleansing to energise your body. My favourite is Clipper’s Organic White Tea from Holland & Barrett or the London Tea Company White Tea and Elderflower from Sainsbury’s.

  • Green Tea – the Chinese are famous for their slim and healthy bodies and they are the biggest green tea consumers. Its consumption also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 28 % and if you start drinking it regularly before 25, it can even delay breast cancer. However, avoid having it with a meal as it inhibits iron absorption by 90%. For best results add lemon or honey as they enhance its absorption and protect the healthy ingredients from degradation in the stomach.

6. Flaxseeds

Flax seeds detox

Just two tablespoons of flaxseed is enough to provide you with over 100% of your daily allowance of omega 3 fatty acids; good fats which, support healthy cell development and promote a healthy heart. The seeds are also packed with metabolising dietary fibre, which aids the body’s natural detoxification process by helping digestion. Add 1 tbs to your morning porridge or sprinkle over salads. Aim to drink 150 ml of liquid at the same time to aid their absorption.

7. Herbal Teas

  • Nettles – taken in a tea, capsule or soup, nettles are one of the most detoxifying dietary supplements. Not only are they full of antioxidants, but they also have an anti-inflammatory effect, calming skin complaints like eczema and acne, and aiding digestion. Meanwhile, their diuretic properties help to eliminate waste products from the body and prevent fluid retention. They are also particularly high in iron and the easiest way to get these benefits is to pick a nettle tea and drink it after a meal.

8. Water – making up 70% of our bodies, it helps the body eliminate pesky toxins while keeping our brains hydrated and fully functional. Be sure to drink your recommended eight glasses of water a day, and remember to drink more if you exercise. To get easily used to this habit, try adding a slice of lemon/lime or even cucumber for a great fresh taste, packed with vitamin C.

9. Herbs and Spices

  • Turmericthe golden spice contains a naturally occurring chemical called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and infection-fighting properties, helping our body eliminate unwanted bugs and accelerate toxin removal. Combine some green vegetables, garlic and legumes with with a teaspoon or two to make a healthy curry. Serve with brown rice for some extra vitamin B which looks after the brain and will keep you in a good mood – a vital ingredient for a happy Valentine’s recipe :-).
  • Parsley – its high levels of vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C and K parsley make it an excellent cleanser and a great anti-inflammatory remedy for the kidneys and bladder, too. It is a great addition to every salad or you can sprinkle it over roasted vegetables.
  • Cinnamon – metabolism-boosting cinnamon is great for stimulating the body’s natural detoxification process due to its high levels of antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Sprinkle on cereal or drink in tea to reap the benefits.
  • Ginger – If you’re feeling a bit run down, ginger is a great remedy. It is anti-inflammatory, can help to boost your metabolism and speed up your body’s natural detoxification process. It also has a warming and stimulating effect on circulation and can prevent nausea. Get it in some tea variations or grate some in meals.

10. Chillies – packed with antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, of which it contains the highest amount out of all the food groups. They’re great for boosting your metabolism, too, and speeding along the detoxing process. If you take 2 teaspoons  a day, your fat burning rate increases by 25 %. If its hotness becomes too much to handle, calm it down with some yoghurt.

11. Wheatgrasswheatgrass juiceA popular ingredient in detox juices and smoothies, wheatgrass is thought to have unique and powerful cleansing abilities thanks to the scores of different vitamins and minerals it contains. Benefits range from flushing out the liver and blood to curing acne, promoting youthfulness and even preventing grey hair. Recent studies show that wheatgrass juice has a powerful ability to fight tumors without the usual toxicity of drugs that also inhibit cell-destroying agents. It also works as a sleep aide. Merely place a tray of living wheatgrass near the head of your bed. It will enhance the oxygen in the air and generate healthful negative ions to help you sleep more soundly. And drinking its juice sweetens the breath and firms up and tightens gums. I buy mine in a powder form from Real Foods and mix it with some yoghurt and a tint of honey for a morning detox. You can also add a piece of fruit to neutralise its slightly bitter taste.

12. Cabbage

Ever heard of the Cabbage Soup Detox Diet? Cabbage is heralded for its powerful cleansing and metabolising properties, thanks to its potent balance of sulphur, vitamin C and iodine. If you opt for Sauerkraut you will aid your digestive health due to the ‘live bacteria preserved in the jar’ – a great probiotic source. Have it with chicken or fish as its sour taste improves protein digestion. If you eat it raw try my ‘Vitamin Mix Salad’ – grated carrots, beetroot or turnip, cabbage and parsley. All flavoured with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

13. Almonds

If you’re feeling sluggish after a heavy season of partying and overindulgence, then almonds are a great go-to snack. Just a handful of these super kernels contains half the amount of your recommended vitamin E, 8% calcium and 19% magnesium. Pick 24 of them, wash them as water expands fibre in nuts which helps you feel fuller. Spray a baking tray with olive oil, bake for 5-10 minutes and sprinkle some cinnamon – a brilliant metabolism boost and treat to the brain. Or you can buy some almond butter and spread it on a slice of bread or combine with fruit. Try it Raw and Organic from Real Foods.

14. Pro-Biotic Yoghurt – eating natural, pro-biotic yoghurt for breakfast with citruis fruits is one of the best ways to battle the bloat. It contains natural bacteria which promotes healthy digestive function as it restores the gut microflora in the intestines. However, its good bacteria disappears under heat, so stay away from such interventions.

Finally, remember one important rule when cleansing – Do Not Overdo It!  Just introduce these steps gradually in your diet and try to keep them for longer to get the full benefits – more energy, eased digestion and a happy stomach:)

With health & balance,

Maya xxx

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