Category Archives: Health & Nutrition

3 Powerful Juice Recipes to Help Fight the Flu

Winter is definitely the time of year when the likelihood of catching the flu infection on every train-ride, mall trip or studio yoga class increases considerably.  Below are three easy-to-make juice recipes that I make regularly.  They’re great for the before, during and after effects of the flu as they help to either boost my immune system or, if I’m unlucky enough to come down with a cold,  to speed up my recovery and keep me fighting fit afterwards.

Beat the flu before it gets the chance to beat you!

A strong immune system is your best protection against colds and flus in the chillier months.   Build it up all year round with this infection-busting power juice.   Carrots are a rich source of beta carotene,  which is a powerful antioxidant and,  coupled with the equally strong antioxidant support provided by the phytonutrients in beets,  offers great protection against flu viruses.

 

Ingredients:
1 small beet
3 carrots
8 stalks celery
1 stalk broccoli
2 cloves garlic

 

When you’re struck down with dose

If you do catch a cold, you really just have to let it run its course.  However, you can help to speed up your recovery and to make the symptoms less unpleasant along the way.  I find that a ‘shot’ of combined ginger, lemon and cayenne pepper generally does the trick.  It’s best to drink this juice warm as your body needs warmth when you have a ‘cold’,  so simmer the ginger in water before adding the lemon and pepper.  The lemon is a great addition because it’s high in vitamin C while the cayenne pepper’s strong content of beta carotene helps to ward off any further infection.

Ingredients:
1 ounce organic ginger, simmered in a little water
1 squeeze lemon
1 pinch cayenne pepper

 

Regaining your strength

A really bad dose of the flu can leave you feeling completely wrung out,  even when the aches and pains have subsided.   So to get you back on your feet I suggest an energizing green juice.   The chlorophyll in green plants pumps oxygen into the blood which in turn clears that brain fug and gives your energy levels a much-needed boost.

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber
8 stalks celery
1 handful kale
1 handful spinach
1 handful parsley
1/4 squeezed lemon
1-inch piece ginger

Enjoy and keep well this season!

 

Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga, Yoga Teacher, Yoga for Athletes, Yoga for Weight Loss

Born in Zimbabwe,  Matt Devine is CEO of Muuyu and has been teaching yoga for nearly eight years.  He primarily teaches Bikram or Hot Yoga.   As a former rugby player who needed reconstruction on both his knees, he has experienced for himself the therapeutic benefits of a hot yoga practice on the body.   He believes that part of yoga’s intense ability to heal is regulating one’s sleep patterns, as with longer, deeper sleep more healing occurs,  and better sleep is a regularly cited benefit of hot yoga.

Connect with Matt on Muuyu here.

Skin problems? Not a problem with weeds and herbs!

The following article is an excerpt from Doris Richardson-Edsell’s book ’10 Tips on Herbs, Spirituality and Food as Medicine’, which she has kindly allowed Muuyu to republish here on our blog.

Weeds and herbs can be wonderful for helping your skin.   Starting with acne,  here are some first steps to help:

Most of the time acne is caused from too much sebum (oil) on the skin.  This oil can bring about bacteria, causing plugged hair follicles in the skin pores.   If it is lodged near the surface of the skin, blackheads and other spots will form.   If a blockage ruptures, it becomes a pimple.  Sometimes the problem is hormonal,  stress,  diet or irritating ingredients in make-up.

So, what to do?

Yarrow

Yarrow is a true remedy for acne. For a yarrow infusion place dried yarrow flowers into a quart jar and fill with boiling water.  Steep overnight, strain and store in a plastic bottle.  Dampen a washcloth with it and use to clean your face every morning, evening and in-between!

Burdock seed or root

Herbalist Susan Weed believes that brewing up some burdock can help and be used to clean the skin.  “For acne rosacea take 10-20 drops of burdock seed or root tincture three times a day which will bring slow but steady improvement.”  You can buy burdock tincture at a health food store where it is generally named Actium Lappa.  You can also make a very strong tea from dried burdock root, brewed overnight, and which you can then drink several times a day.

Herbal steam bath

Herbal steaming opens embedded pores.   You can use a combination of herbs such as yarrow, elder flowers and chamomile.  Put these herbs into a large pot.   Cover with a quart of cool water and bring to a slow simmer.   Cover your head with a towel and lean over the pot so that the steam touches your face,  keeping your eyes closed.  Remember not to get to close as you don’t want to burn yourself.  Steam for about 15 minutes.

Natural first aid for burns, bruises, cuts and scrapes.

Here are some remedies that work for burns and minor cuts:

Aloe Vera

For soothing a minor burn,  including sunburn,  try some aloe.   You can use fresh aloe by snapping off a piece from a mature plant and applying the transparent gel onto your skin.   Aloe has also been used as a first aid for frost bite because it acts against thromboxane, a substance that constricts blood vessels.   When aloe is applied,  the blood vessels relax, helping to heal the frost bite.

Lavender

This plant can help with minor cuts and scrapes.   Mix 15 drops of lavender essential oil with an ounce of aloe vera juice.   They are both available at a health food store.  Place the mixture in a spray bottle and store in the refrigerator for a soothing,  cool mist that works wonders on small cuts and scrapes.

Plantain

This common weed can be found in most lawns and it can help to soothe pain,  bind together torn tissue and strengthen the skin’s surface.  When used fresh, crush a few thin leaves and apply to minor cuts and scrapes.   At the health food store you can also find some plantain salve which eases itching and promotes healing.

You can buy ’10 Tips on Herbs, Spirituality and Food as Medicine’, along with Doris’ many other books and booklets  on amazon.com. (Muuyu Tip: These books are great Christmas gifts for anyone hoping to lead a more healthful life.  Just saying!)

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Doris Richardson-Edsell is a a registered nurse, yoga instructor, author, mother and grandmother.  She has worked as a counselor and group therapist at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, New York, for over 25 years.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read or hear more of Doris’ expertise, you can check out her  previous blog posts here and here or visit  Doris’ webpage, Body Mind Health, where she discusses and advises on all topics concerning holistic healing and health.

 

Balance Out Indulgence: 3 Holiday Treats and 3 Ways to Burn Them Off

As a nutrition coach,  I work with clients all the time to help them understand that food has two equally important functions: as a source of energy and as a social, community and cultural phenomenon.  To focus on the calories alone is to ignore a huge component of what makes food so preeminent in our lives.

While it is critically important to our long-term health that we eat nutrient-dense foods and essential to a functioning planet that we eat as much local and organic fresh produce and animal product as possible, there is something to be said for eating all the foods we love–even the ones that aren’t so good for us–at least in moderation.

There is no time of year when the social function of food is more important than the holidays.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner in the U.S. and Christmas hot on its heels, temptation to indulge in all those “foods we love” is everywhere you turn.  One way to dig in to your favorite holiday treats guilt-free is to empower yourself with the knowledge of what it takes to burn off those extra calories with common physical activities.

I’ve compiled a list of three of most folks’ favorite holiday dishes and three corresponding workouts to help you stay on a healthy track from now to the new year.

Delicious Culprit #1: Pumpkin Pie

Nothing says fall flavors and the start of the holiday season like a little warm pumpkin pie.  This is my favorite dessert at this time of year.  Did you know that just one slice of pumpkin pie without whipped cream has around 300 calories?  When I found that out I little spot inside my heart died. The good news for those of you with a sweet tooth like me is that you can scorch those calories in no time. In fact, it’s as easy as riding a bike!  All you have to do is hop on your wheels and head out for a 5 mile ride.  This translates to about 35 minutes of cycling and, voila, you can call it even!

Delicious Culprit #2: Mashed Potatoes

Most of us try hard to avoid too many starchy foods but when it comes time to build a holiday meal, more often than not potatoes become the base.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of mashed potatoes, but I’m willing to bet many of you are.  Just one cup of homemade mashed potatoes, prepared with whole milk and butter comes out to around 250 calories.  To burn this comfort food off you’d have to walk at a brisk pace for roughly an hour, covering anywhere from 3-4 miles depending on your stride.

If you like your spuds with gravy, tack on an extra 8-10 minutes of walking.  Here’s an idea: why not gather a group of family and friends for a nature walk to get some fresh air and improve digestion post-feast? It might just become a new holiday tradition.

Delicious Culprit #3: Stuffing

Stuffing, made with cranberries and nuts, has about 300 calories per 1 cup serving–and let’s face it, most of us go back for seconds.  This traditional and tasty side is often only prepared for Thanksgiving so it’s worth the carb-overload. When it comes down to balancing the scale, try a one-hour (or longer) Power Yoga class.  A slow-paced, stretch-focused yoga class won’t fit the bill here so make sure you aim for the kind where you really build up a sweat.

Need a little direction? Try my Fusion Flow class most Sunday mornings on Muuyu.  It’s my signature class which brings together the best of yoga, martial arts and plyometrics for a high intensity, mixed movement interval workout.  This fun and challenging class is geared towards building strength, power and stability in your body. Fusion Flow will make you sweat, keep you on your toes and leave you feeling the burn.

The bottom line with holiday feasting is that it’s all about making smart choices when you can, not dwelling on a little over-indulgence here and there, and putting your healthy efforts into balancing out the food you eat with the amount of physical activity you ask of your body – that way, when family and food come together in one beautiful space there will be no guilt, just joy and fun!

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Amy Rizzotto, RYT-200, is a food and fitness loving blogger, yoga instructor, nutrition coach  and studio owner based in Washington, DC. Amy’s passion is looking at the space where yoga and nutrition fuse for optimal athletic performance and overall mind/body wellness. MOAR-fit.com serves as her platform for sharing words of motivation, tasty recipes for health and workout tips. You can learn more about what she’s up to by following her on Facebook, Instagram, PInterestTwitter and Muuyu.

should we be measuring national well being?

Last week an all-Parliamentary group in the UK released a report on ‘Wellness Economics’.  The report is part of the British Prime Minister David Cameron’s ongoing intention to measure the well-being and happiness of the country’s citizens and is yet another cog in a really interesting global wheel that has been turning for some while.

With chronic illnesses and diseases on a continual rise, there has been a slow shift across western societies towards preventative health practices and proactive wellness.  This report, with its emphasis on the necessity of tackling poverty and job instability, claims that this is still fundamentally about creating a healthy, hale and happy society:  “We care about recessions because we care about unemployment, and we care about unemployment because we care about people’s well-being”.

Economics and well-being are, of course, intrinsically linked.  On a private level, the pressures of having little or no money can cause stress-related illnesses to manifest as well as push people into making choices that also affect their health negatively, such as buying cheap, low-quality food or turning to drink, drugs or overeating as a panacea for their problems.   On a public level, the consequences of an unhealthy society also creates economic as well as a social problems.  According to the World Economic Forum’s Healthy Living Initiative the global economy will lose an estimated $47 trillion through what it calls chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – i.e. heart problems, cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes, etc. – and mental health disorders.  Such NCDs, it claims, have four common risk factors – tobacco and the harmful use of alcohol, plus physical inactivity and unhealthy diets.

Thus the link between economics and well-being is circular in nature with health influencing the economy and the economy influencing health.  So, the fact that certain leaders now want to redefine this relationship is to be lauded – or is it?

On the one hand, making changes which are aimed at benefiting people is a good thing.  Even the simple step of using the word ‘wellness’ when talking about ‘healthcare’ can make a difference. I mean, let’s be honest, when we say ‘healthcare’ what we really think is ‘sickness’ and ‘sick care’.  Wellness, on the other hand embraces all that makes us feel and look good in the areas of fitness, beauty, nutrition, mindfulness & spirituality as well as traditional and alternative medicine.

Wellness also has a much broader reach across a lot of sub-categories that may, in more traditional thinking, have been viewed as on the periphery of the health industry – i.e. certain alternative medicines, spas, meditation, even yoga.  However, there is a large body of evidence to now suggest that when traditional healthcare and wellness practices are approached holistically people’s overall health and well-being is elevated and healthcare costs are then reduced.

Nonetheless, while our countries’ leaders may really be trying to step in the right direction and this sideways move in thinking about peoples’ well-being is not just fancy footwork to please the electorate, do we really want them deciding what actually constitutes ideas of well-being?

For example, last year the former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg attempted to pass a bill to ban super-sized soda drinks being sold in New York City.  This was part of the Mayor’s overall health policy for the city which included bans on indoor smoking and trans fats as well as an initiative to reduce salt in food.  Bloomberg readily admits that his fight against Big Soda was as a direct result of the cost of obesity on the city and the country as a whole (Obesity incurs $190billion alone in annual medical costs in the US).

Yet, while some may view this as a positive health stance, the moral implications of a government deciding what people can and cannot drink and eat is surely questionable.  Also, if this bill had been passed and then adopted by other US states and eventually other countries, would that have opened the door to heavy legislation on all sorts activities and behaviors deemed ‘unhealthy’ by powerful governments?

The same could be said for David Cameron’s introduction of the national happiness campaigns which have begotten the above-mentioned report. His Happiness Index received a lot of attention when he first discussed it nearly a decade ago.  Yet while creating a Happiness Index as an alternative to GDP (which only measures economic output) may sound both progressive and positive, do we really need governments to concentrate efforts on promoting one single picture of mass happiness rather than creating the conditions that allow individuals to pursue happiness and well-being in all its kaleidoscopic colours?

In the main, I like that elected leaders are getting to grips with the idea that there are other measures outside of monetary wealth such as health, leisure, the environment, governance, housing, education and work-life balance that determine quality of life.   However, just as GDP can’t tell you who in the country has their pockets full and who doesn’t because it only measures an average per capita output, doesn’t that also mean that a happiness or well-being index will also not highlight those individuals or population groups within a single ‘well-being economy’ who have possibly slipped between the cracks and are not doing as well as others? (And how depressing would it be anyway to realize you hadn’t achieved everything the index claimed you were supposed to achieve to make you happy?!)

It is interesting, and not before time, to see western politics turning down a path towards better health and living conditions for people.  Nonetheless, this journey is one that needs to be taken in unison with the citizens whose lives they’re trying to change.  Genuine citizen inclusion will make all the difference in ‘wellness economics’ becoming a real manifesto for healthier, happier lives for all.

What are your thoughts on this?