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449 articles in 6 major categories

Quinoa - Powerhouse For Health

Quinoa - Powerhouse For Health

In our world where grains of every kind—gluten-free or not—turn to sugar when you eat them, quinoa is a fabulous superfood you should make part of your diet. With its high fiber content and good quality protein, plus a wide variety of powerful health-giving compounds—from polyphenols, saponins and phytosterols to free radical scavengers—it’s not only yummy, but a great meat-free food to grace your table. It has very little carb content compared to all those stodgy grains and is far lower on the dangerous glycemic index. SUPER NUTRIENTS Although it’s spelled “kwin-OH-a” you pronounce quinoa’s name as “KEEN-wa”. It has been a staple of South American diets for an amazing 4000 years. But not until 50 years ago did curious scientists start to investigate the nature of this food and discover that it comes as close as any other in the plant kingdom to supplying a vast array of the essential nutrients we humans need to thrive. This seed is high in magnesium to calm the body and reduce blood pressure. It brings you an abundance of good quality fiber when you eat it. Quinoa also contains a lot of anti-inflammatory compounds. It is safe to eat even if you have delicate digestion, inflammatory bowel trouble, celiac disease or gluten intolerance. And it’s brimming with important minerals and vitamins from magnesium, zinc and phosphorous to vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folate. This makes quinoa an excellent choice for people savvy enough to go for foods that are low on the glycemic index, low-carb dieters, vegans, and all of us who need to increase our fiber intake. THE NEW FUNCTIONAL FOOD Studies continue to report that eating quinoa brings us all sorts of health-promoting effects. It can help reduce high blood pressure, alleviate cardiovascular troubles, promote cellular energy production and act as a pre-biotic. Thanks to its high level of bio-active compounds, many also believe this unique natural food has the potential to help lower the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart conditions. At the University of Milan, researchers discovered it also satisfies your appetite far better than, say, wheat or rice. It promotes a sense of fullness, helping to alleviate your desire for more food and helping to halt weight gain. The seeds of quinoa can also help reduce most of the negative effects that come from fructose on your lipid profile and glucose level. To discover what this wonderful non-grain can do for you, you need to know how to prepare and use it in your life. After all, the proof of any pudding is in the eating. And there is an art to preparing it. HERE’S HOW Make sure the quinoa you buy is fresh and organic. Most of the stuff in supermarkets is neither, so shop in good, reliable organic food stores. Read labels carefully to check for both before you buy. Stale quinoa is dusty and can taste “dead” since it has lost so much of its goodness through food processing or just sitting on shelves for too long. Rinse it well Do not be tempted to skip this direction. You must wash away the thin coating on these tiny seeds, otherwise they will taste bitter. You will need a very fine-meshed strainer so that the little seeds don’t slip through it in the process. Hold it under streaming water for two minutes while swirling around its contents. Time to Cook To 1 cup of your rinsed seeds add two cups of water, a pinch or two of sea salt or Himalayan salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat as much as possible and let it simmer until it becomes tender. This usually takes about 15 minutes. You’ll be able to tell when it is cooked because the tiny grains will have become translucent and the germ of each seed will show up as a little spiral on its surface. You do not want to overcook it as this will make it mushy. Drain it Remove from heat and drain it using the same fine-mesh strainer. Then put the drained quinoa back in the pot, cover it and let it sit without any heat for another 15 minutes. This helps dry it a bit so it does not become clumpy. Time to serve Aerate it with a fork. It should look light and feel fluffy, and you should begin to see the way the germ is separating from the seed itself. Its texture is very much like that of rice or couscous. Serve immediately You can eat it as a porridge with a handsome glob of butter on top, add it to a casserole, a curry, or the way you might serve rice on a plate with other vegetables. MORE FABULOUS FAUX GRAINS Quinoa is but one of the amazing “false” grains which have none of the negative effects of grains and cereals. You can make all sorts of wonderful things using them, from muffins and pancakes to loaves and pilaf. Learn more about all of these by clicking here, and enjoy! Do let me know how you get on, and if you discover any of your own wonderful recipes using this gem of a faux grain, so we can share them with other people in the future.

Good Fats and Bad Fats - The Truth About Fats

Good Fats and Bad Fats - The Truth About Fats

We live in a world where fats—especially the saturated, animal-based variety—are falsely accused of being our greatest enemy. Meanwhile, the polyunsaturated fats, whose benefits are often celebrated, are not as good for our health as we have been led to believe. In fact, they can be very dangerous. Science has moved on since much of the erroneous “fat research” appeared some 40 years ago. But politically correct dietary advice and mainstream public consciousness has not. Health-supporting evidence has come to light. It’s vitally important you learn about it: A lot of saturated fats–which we have long been told are dangerous–are, in truth not dangerous at all. They do NOT cause heart disease as we have been taught. In truth they are GOOD for us. So are many other fats which our forefathers ate but which we have long been told to avoid. The trick is to choose the right kinds of these fats in your meals. When you do this, your body, health and looks will be revolutionized. THE BAD SCIENCE For generations, fats have been surrounded by all sorts of false beliefs. One of these is that “saturated fat is a prime cause of heart disease”. This theory is based on the 1950s ‘lipid hypothesis’, by the scientist Ancel Keys. This erroneous research greatly benefited the vegetable oil and food processing industries, who suppressed alternative views. Over sixty years later, many still believe it. Another myth: “The Western diet has increased in saturated fat over the last century”. This is absolutely wrong. In fact, the reverse is true. At the turn of the century, most people got their fatty acids from saturated or monounsaturated animal-based sources: Lard, butter, tallow, etc—and they were better off for it. But from 1910 to 1970 in the United States, the proportion of animal fats declined from 83 to 62%. Butter consumption went from 18 to 4 pounds per person per year, all because of the promotion of margarine manufacturers. What has increased is the amount of fats we’re taking in the form of refined vegetable oils, margarines and junk fats—by a whopping 400%—during the same period. And our health as a species continues to suffer. THE REAL CULPRITS Here’s something else that might shock you. Analysis of the fat in artery clogs reveals that only about 26% is saturated. The rest is mostly polyunsaturated! In actual fact, saturated fats are our heart’s preferred source of “food” to draw on under stress. They help our bodies perform many other functions too, building our cells, strengthening our bones and immune systems. As for polyunsaturated fats, most of which are in the form of omega-6 fatty acids, these tend to become rancid quickly when heated—such as during cooking or food processing. They then become a health-undermining source of free radicals, “marauders” inside our bodies. Polyunsaturates can do our body a great deal of harm, attacking our cells and damaging DNA. Little wonder that time after time, studies show a high link between consumption of these fats with cancer and heart disease. (Whether rancid or not, too much omega-6 in the diet is dangerous. This is just beginning to be discovered.) Yet most of the fats in modern diets come from these vegetable oils—with many diets consisting of up to 30% polyunsaturated fat. So don’t do yourself a disservice by believing what those P.C. diet gurus tell you. A good hard look at the evidence shows us quite the opposite is true. OUT OF WHACK - OMEGA 3 BENEFITS Omega-6 and omega 3 fatty acids, when in the right balance, help your body in all sorts of ways. They increase your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, helping your body regulate its blood sugar. They increase metabolic rate and fat metabolism, so more of your stored fat can be burnt as energy. Paleontologists have discovered that our ancestors consumed them in the ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 (omega-6 to omega 3 fatty acids). However today, in our Western diets, the balance between these two fatty acids has become all screwed up. Modern diets contain a ratio of about 22:1—far too high for optimal health. This excess can cause all sorts of problems, from weight gain to cancer. What can we do about it? For a start, you never have to worry about getting enough omega-6s. They’re everywhere. What you do need to do is increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids]. A great way of doing this is to start taking a good-quality fish oil supplement. Good Fats and Bad Fats - GET SAVVY Another vital way to address the imbalance of good and bad fats in our diets is to get savvy about what oils we are using daily—in our cooking, baking, dressings, and everything else: Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean and Cottonseed Oils are very high in omega-6—over 50%—and are badly processed, using all sorts of nasty chemicals. Avoid them completely. Canola Oil has been associated with fibrotic heart lesions; is high in sulfur and easily turns rancid. Steer clear of it at all costs. Olive Oil is monounsaturated rather than polyunsaturated, so is the safest vegetable oil you can use. It’s well-suited to dressings and can be heated at moderate temperatures. Make sure it’s cloudy (not filtered) and a golden-yellow color. Sesame Oil is reasonably stable and can be used on occasion for frying. But don’t overdo it, as it is still high in omega-6. Coconut, Palm, Palm Kernel and Red Palm Oils are much more highly saturated than the other vegetable oils, so are the safest, healthiest oils you can cook with. Coconut oil in particular is very good for you, containing antiviral and antibacterial properties and plenty of medium chain triglycerides which support weight loss. BUTTER ‘EM UP If you’re like millions of others, you buy margarine in the belief that it’s “better for you” than butter. Here’s an order: Avoid it like the plague. The process used to make margarine, known as hydrogenization, does horrendous things to the already-rancid vegetable oils it is made from. Not only does it contain all sorts of additives you should steer clear of. It’s linked to both cancer and heart disease, and can cause chronic high cholesterol. On the other hand, natural, good quality butter contains many essential nutrients. In fact, it may be the only good source of fat-soluble vitamins in the American diet! Experiments comparing the health of margarine eaters with butter eaters continually find in butter’s favor: In one such study, the risk of developing heart disease in butter users was half that of those using margarine. Infants and children especially benefit from butter for their normal growth and development. Use this delicious stuff liberally—and without guilt—in the knowledge that it will do you no harm, and your body will thank you for it.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

People everywhere are hungry for clear, practical, scientifically-validated information about how to make safe and simple use of herbs in their day to day lives. I too was once hungry for this kind of information. I discovered that working (and playing) with herbs did not need to be complex and confusing. It could be sheer pleasure. For me it was like walking down a path where a wonderful surprise is revealed at every turn. For more than a million years our ancestors lived with herbs. They cooked with them, healed with them, scented their bodies and sanctified their prayers with them. On a molecular level, the human body recognizes a herb when we take it. Come to know the nature of a specific plant and it will enhance your life immeasurably. In a very real sense you can come to know a herb the way a woman knows her lover. The spirit of a plant meets the spirit of a human. Expect magic. You won’t be disappointed. ALOE VERA According to both traditional practices and recent scientific experiments, the right plants can work wonders on the human body. Aloe heals The cool, slippery gel oozed out of a leaf of the aloe cactus has been used for almost 3000 years to treat burns and cuts and to undo the devastating effects of too much exposure to the sun. Recent studies show that phyto substances from the aloe actually penetrate damaged tissue encouraging healing, increasing blood flow and easing inflammation and pain. Aloe Vera is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic if only extracted from the leaf pulp. It contains carboxypeptidase and bradykininase which relieve pain. Make a friend with Aloe Vera If you have a good, healthy aloe plant that is at least three years old (and you go about it sensibly) you can cut the leaves for use without doing lasting damage to the plant. Relief for burns and cuts lies inside the leaf. Cut a leaf, split it open, and smooth the gel you find inside over the burn, or just lay the leaf, gelside, on the burn and hold it in place with a bandage. The classic definition of a herb is a non-woody plant which dies down to its roots each winter. This definition is far too limiting. It was probably made up by 19th Century European botanists who had never seen the rainforest in which, of course there is no winter to die back in. Neither had they ever heard of woody trees and shrubs such as hawthorn and ginko and elder which are some of the best selling herbs on the market these days. I define a herb as a medicinal plant. It can come from any climate and be a leaf, a bark, a flower or a root. It can be home-grown or wild, a weed, a spice, a plant which is used for its healing or culinary or beautifying properties.Once you discover the power of herbs it is easy to become so enthusiastic about them you go overboard trying to use them for everything. It is not wise to take lots of different plants all at the same time. Or you might start to think that since a small amount of something is good for you, taking twice or three times that amount will be even better. It isn’t. If you want safe and sane herbal help here are a few guidelines to follow: Herbs occasionally interact with conventional drugs. Be sure to tell your doctor that you intend to try a herbal remedy. If you want to use herbs to treat a serious medical condition, find yourself a good medical herbalist to work with. Don’t do it yourself. Take no more than recommended dosages of a herb or combination. If you notice any adverse reaction, stop right away. Use only the very best herbs whether they be fresh, dried, teas, tinctures, extracts, or capsules. Give plants enough time to work. Many herbs, such as St John’s Wort and Wild Yam, are slow to build beneficial effects on the body. Look to six weeks for results.

My Love Affair With Plants

My Love Affair With Plants

For more than a million years, our ancestors lived with herbs. They cooked with them, healed with them, used them to scent their bodies and sanctify their prayers. On a molecular level, the human body recognizes herbs when we take them. Get to know the nature of a few specific plants and they will enhance your life immeasurably. In a very real sense, we can come to know an herb the way a woman knows her lover. The spirit of a plant meets the spirit of a human. Expect magic. You won’t be disappointed. A FINE ROMANCE My own passion for herbs began when I discovered the help they could bring me and my family. Simple plants such as nettle or golden rod (Solidago virgauria) have a natural cleansing and diuretic effect on my body. Traveling on airplanes, my ankles used to swell up. I discovered when I got home and made a cup of golden rod or nettle tea, the swelling would vanish. Fascinated, I began to read about what herbs can do for the immune system. I began to experiment with other plants—goldenseal and echinacea, burdock and shiitake mushrooms. I began to give herbs to my whole family whenever any of us threatened to come down with flu or a cold. I discovered that, provided we took them in time, one or a combination of plants would clear the problem before the full force of any illness hit. A doctor friend, Gordon Latto, taught me that gargling with red sage and sticking a clove of garlic in its paper shell in between the teeth and the inside of the mouth for a few hours a day would clear a sore throat and nip throat infections in the bud. I began to wonder just how many other remarkable things plants could do for us. THE SUPERB ADAPTOGENS I was lucky enough to meet with the famous Russian scientist I.I. Brekhman, expert in adaptogenic herbs, who won the Lenin Prize for Science. From him I learned that the adaptogens such as ginseng, eluthrococcus or Siberian Ginseng, and Suma from South America strengthen a person’s ability to resist illness as well as making it possible for us to work and play longer and harder without experiencing the negative effects of prolonged stress. That was thirty years ago. Since then I have come to use herbs and flowers, fresh raw juices and vegetables, water and tender loving care to help the body protect itself from illness, heal a sickness when it struck, calm an agitated mind, induce slumber when unable to sleep, clear depression, and care for my skin. I have also learned to use herbs to decorate my house and sanctify my working space. I also fell in love with photographing them. Meanwhile, I raised four children without antibiotics or over-the-counter drugs thanks to the blessings of herbs. DAZZLING POWER The classic definition of an herb is ‘a non-woody plant which dies down to its roots each winter’. This definition is far too limiting. It was probably made up by 19th century European botanists who had never seen the rainforest in which, of course, there is no winter to die back in. Neither had they ever heard of woody trees and shrubs such as hawthorn, ginkgo and elder, which provide us with some of the best-selling herbs on the market these days. My own definition of an herb is simply a medicinal plant. It can come from any climate and be a leaf, a bark, a flower or a root. It can be home-grown or wild—a weed, a spice, a plant which is used for its healing, culinary or beautifying properties. So powerful are the health-enhancing capacities of herbs that a vast number of common prescription drugs have been derived from a mere 90 species of plants. According to Professor Norman Farnsworth—leading American expert in pharmacognosy at University of Illinois —74% of common drugs have been developed directly out of traditional native herb folklore. In the United States alone, the annual sales of prescription drugs developed from plant products used by tribal cultures is already in excess of $6 billion. Unlike prescription drugs, whose side-effects can be devastating, most herbs are both safe and simple to use. Most carry no side-effects at all. MEDICAL FAILURE The way we have thought about health and healing for the past century—what the experts call our biomedical model—has come to the limits of its usefulness. Conventional medical practices view the body as a collections of structures—bones and blood, cells and tissues. Common medical treatment consists of acting on these structures in a symptomatic way. Doctors give one drug to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, another to get rid of headaches or put you to sleep. Whether these drugs are medically prescribed or over-the-counter products, virtually all carry negative side effects. Most have no concern with genuine healing. They instead focus on ‘managing’ illness by suppressing symptoms. Herbal treatment, like all of the great natural approaches to health through history, looks at things differently. It insists that at every level of biological organisation—from chromosomes in our DNA all the way up to our eyes and toes, stomach and liver—the body has a stunning capacity for self-treatment. It is capable of removing damaged structures and renewing them on its own. The natural capacity of living organisms as complex as ours to regenerate themselves is something that symptomatic drug-based medicine ignores altogether. Yet self-regeneration lies at the very core of using natural foods, water, air and movement therapies, and of course herbs, to strengthen, balance or heal. Chinese medicine is functional medicine; it did not develop along structural lines as Western 20th century medicine did. So is Ayurvedic and Unani medicine from India, and nature-cure in the West. The Chinese pharmacopoeia is the richest in the world. Chinese doctors value plants for their ability to strengthen the body’s functioning, heighten its own defences and improve immunity. They use herbs, as we are only now beginning to in the West, to extend longevity, to increase resistance to illness, to heighten energy, and to calm disturbed emotions. BRING MAGIC INTO YOUR LIFE There is an endless parade of different ways you can use herbs. In the health food store and mail order catalogue you can find a confusing array of capsules, pills, tablets, extracts, tinctures and ‘whole herbs’ or ‘bulk herbs’, none of which seem to relate to the ‘infusion’ you have decided you would like to take. And what about the herbs you have growing in your garden? Here is a rough guide to finding your way through the confusion. First, find yourself a reputable supplier. I have a passion for iHerb.com, since the variety of herbal products they offer are the best and cheapest anywhere, and they ship worldwide. Personally, I’m wary of buying herbs in health food stores or pharmacies unless they come from a manufacturer or supplier I know. With a supplier you trust and with whom you can discuss your needs, you can be sure you are getting a good potency and that the herbs have not been sitting in a cupboard somewhere for months. BULK/DRIED/WHOLE HERBS What you are buying is a bag or box of a specific weight of dried herb, either in its whole form, crushed or powdered. This is the best way to purchase herbs if you want to make teas (infusions), decoctions, or your own capsules, or if you want to use them in potpourris and sachets. It is also about the cheapest way to buy dried herbs. TINCTURES A tincture uses alcohol diluted in water to draw out the plant’s chemical constituents and preserve them. You can buy tinctures by the bottle and they are pretty potent. You take from several drops to 1 teaspoon or more of a tincture in a little water several times a day if needed. Tinctures are best bought from a reputable supplier. You can make them yourself, but the process is less accurate than when they are professionally produced. I buy many herbs in tincture form as I find them so convenient. You will sometimes find a figure such as 1:4 on a bottle of tincture. This gives you the ratio of the weight of the herb—in this instance 1 part of herb—to alcohol/water mix. An herbalist may suggest you take a specific ratio in which case your supplier can advise, but for general usage you don’t need to know the ratio. EXTRACTS Extracts are easy to confuse with tinctures. They are far more concentrated. They aim to contain all the active chemicals of the plant, not only those that will dissolve in alcohol. Extraction processes vary from pressure rolling to heat treatment to vacuum extraction. These are best left to the experts. Extracts have a limited shelf life. They should be kept in the fridge. Herbalists often prescribe extracts during an illness, rather than using them for prevention. Extracts can also be useful to add to a cream or salve for external use: ¼ extract to ¾ base. They are pretty strong in their action. TABLETS, PILLS & CAPSULES Tablets, pills and capsules are often more readily than the loose dried herbs themselves. Tablets, pills and capsules usually contain the whole herb, not just the constituents extracted in a tincture or infusion. Therefore, in taking them, you are making use of the synergy in action between all the constituents of each plant. Choose those from a reputable manufacturer/supplier. Tablets are made from dried plant material—leaves, roots, bark and/or flowers—mixed with a base, sometimes lactose, both to help you hold them in your hand to take them and to aid absorption in the stomach. Pills are, basically, tablets with a coating. If the plant is sticky, smelly, or tastes dreadful—or all three—it is more likely to come in pill form than tablet form as the protein or sugar coating disguises less pleasant aspects of the plant. Usually I avoid these, since sugar in any form is far from beneficial. Capsules, made of gelatine or a vegetarian equivalent, are filled with dried herbs—even the stickier, smellier ones. They need to be stored in a cool, dry place, but they preserve herbs well. You can buy gelatine capsules from a chemist and fill them yourself, either with herbs you have dried yourself or with dried herbs you have bought in bulk. The standard 00 size capsule holds about ½ gram (500mg) of herb. Make sure the herb is ground into as fine a powder as possible before filling, so that it can be easily absorbed by the body. A WONDROUS WORLD Plants speak volumes when you know how to listen. One of the great joys of our herbal tradition has been the love affair that takes place when the spirit of an herb meets the spirit of the person using it. It is an old art by which, using your intuition and trusting your instinct, you can move towards an awareness of the central nature of a plant and how best it can be used. For example—the herb Leonurus cardiaca is a powerful strengthener of the heart, reducing tachycardia and hypertension and promoting normal heart action. The essence of its personality, however, is better expressed in its common name—motherwort. This herb has the ability to bring a sense of absolute security—the way a baby feels lying in the arms of its mother—during periods of deep and unsettling change. Every plant has secret wisdom and power. It will tell you its tales and offer its richness to you as you open your heart to it.

Blitz Guss For Energy And Good Looks

Blitz Guss For Energy And Good Looks

Hydrotherapy is a powerful external tool for rejuvenation. The Germans are masters at it. Thanks to the electrical properties of water, using alternate hot and cold water on the body can alter the electrical charges of molecules in the body—particularly the low-level voltages which regulate lymphatic drainage—by alternately increasing and decreasing them. In physiological terms this opens up the capillaries increasing blood flow and helping to stimulate the elimination of wastes through the blood and lymph systems. It also relaxes and tones muscles and helps you feel energetic. Here's how: After standing under a hot shower for 3 to 5 minutes so that your body is warm and comfortable, alternate hot and cold water—2 minutes of hot followed by 30 seconds of cold—three times, finishing off with cold. Once you get used to the Blitz Guss protocol you are likely to find that you want to increase the time your body is exposed to cold water just because it makes you feel so good and so alive. Don't do this just before bed or you may feel so energetic that you can’t sleep. And, of course, if you have a pacemaker or any sort of heart condition it is essential that you check with your medical practitioner and get his or her OK before you try it. Be sure to check out the video below: [video src=http://d1vg7rm5xhtxe9.cloudfront.net/video/sd/blitz-guss.mp4 poster=http://d3oy45cyct8ffi.cloudfront.net/health/into-the-bliss/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2012/02/lk-video-blitz-guss.jpg ]

It's Time To Touch The Divine

It's Time To Touch The Divine

Silence. Solitude. These words strike fear into our post-modern hearts—especially at Christmas or New Year. We seem to have forgotten the power of escaping for a time into the depths of our inner being, of listening to our breath, of sensing the earth’s heartbeat. There are too many presents to be bought, phone calls to be made, gatherings to attend, children’s noses to wipe. Yet now, as one year ends and another begins, it’s the best time ever to connect with the divine. And where do we discover it? At the very core of each one of us deep within—in silence and in solitude—no matter what kind of noise or chaos may be taking place in the world around us. Solitude has much to teach us. But it takes courage to become a learner again. It asks that we trust enough in life and in ourselves to drop, even for fifteen minutes at a time, all we know (or think we know) and become quietly receptive to whatever arises from within. It also asks that we respond wholeheartedly to whatever we feel, smell, taste, see and touch: The intense blue of a tiny flower which sears our senses. A wild thought that invites us into a new reality like “maybe I’ll take up scuba diving or write a novel.” Good god, where did that come from? The fragrance of Ceylon cinnamon sprinkled on a cup of dark cocoa. All these splendors, all these blessings go unnoticed unless we create enough quiet time for us to experience them. ALL IS ONE The word ‘alone’ was once treated as two words: all one. To be all one meant to be wholly oneself—all of one piece. This is the great gift of any sanctuary. Practiced daily, silence and solitude heal confusion and mend frazzled nerves. Getting “away from it all” to sit on a rock or at a window, to gaze at the sky or to explore the dance of thoughts in your own mind. These things help us come home to ourselves. They allow the wildness of our intrinsic being to converse with our more rational side. To begin, lay aside fifteen minutes each day during which you enter the sanctuary of your own being to sit or walk in silence. Become aware of how silence acts upon you. Are you comfortable with it? Or is it something that you try to avoid? Do you sense that there is a richness here that you may not have experienced for a long time? NEW REALITIES Throughout human history, the center of the universe—the axis mundi—formed the core of safety for tribal cultures. It gave them access to great spiritual power, at this universal hub. They knew they could rely on the axis mundi. This made them feel safe. Now we live in a new reality, one which is continually evolving, reshaping itself, adjusting, creating and destroying as it unfolds. But here lies the greatest revelation of all. Today’s axis mundi is no longer tribal. It has become a much more individual experience—a rich cosmic void which lives at the core of each one of us, as it does in the cosmos itself. Here, in solitude and silence, we can come face to face with the divine. It is from here that we draw on visions, energy and guidance for what we long to create. Here, where the universal and the personal divinity meet and merge as one—a life-changing experience. ENTERING YOUR STILL POINT BRINGS: A sense of safety. Access to the depths of your own unique truth. An experience that enables your own soul can to align itself with the anima mundi—the soul of the cosmos. The realization that the universe can communicate in a purposeful way with you. A connection with the life you want to create for yourself. A chance to explore your dreams and visions. Once we learn to anchor ourselves within this core, deep within the darkness of our unique essential being, a new expanded reality begins to reveal itself. ANCHOR IN THE DIVINE You can read about the axis mundi in the Old Testament story of Jacob’s Ladder. ‘And he dreamed and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed…” and Jacob awakened out of this sleep, and he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place!”’ (Genesis 28:10-14, 18-19) You will also find this anchoring experience in the ancient Greek description of omphalos—the navel or hub of the world. They describe it as “the divine body out of which creation emerges.” To the Buddhists it is Mount Meru, center of the created universe. This axis mundi—the cosmic void—is recreated again and again in the magnificent sand paintings of Tibetan Lamas. The Hebrews call it the beth-el which means the dwelling place of the divine. For them it was Jerusalem, as it was for the early Christians—at one and the same time, the place where Jesus died on the cross, and where the tree of life stands at the center of the world. The omphalos is always found at the center of a circle into which spiritual power from all directions is poured, and out of which divinely-created forms are brought to birth. You will even find it in the Chinese symbol for yin and yang, and in the magic circle drawn by children on the playground. Kids know you gather power. You are also protected from attack by the opposing team in any game of hide and seek. ENTER THE COSMIC VOID How do you enter the cosmic void and access the power that lies there? Simple. You just create the conditions that can allow it to happen. Step one is practicing the skill of living in the NOW. Start right now with the most mundane daily task you have to perform. Say you are washing dishes. Decide that, for the next ten minutes, you will be fully present with total awareness of what you are doing. There’s no big deal about this. It doesn’t demand any great effort. It is the easiest thing in the world once you decide to have a go. You’re likely to find it’s also a lot of fun. As Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist teacher whose work I admire, says, “You can wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes or you can wash the dishes to wash the dishes.” With every task you carry out—whether it be typing at a keyboard as I am doing right now, combing your hair, opening a door, gazing at a fire—you have the choice of carrying it out mechanically while your mind wanders, or with full attention, which begins to open you to the divine power of the center of your essential being. LIFE IN THE NOW Try addressing whatever you do from a point of view of mindfulness—clear, simple attention without a need to analyze, label or judge anything. Just let yourself be fully present from one moment to the next. When mental rumination, thoughts and feelings arise, take a look at them, then just let them go and bring your attention back to whatever you are doing right here, right now. As you practice remaining fully present, what was once a mundane or boring task can become a source of fascination. This is what is known as “whole body-mind seeing”. When we come to live our lives this way, not only do we forge rich connections with multi-dimensional reality. We move beyond our habitual, limiting ways of thinking, seeing, and being. We begin to touch upon then be fed by the sacred nature of our lives. We live more authentically from our own unique experience of the divine. Try it and see.

Freedom Calls

Freedom Calls

Freedom has always fascinated me.  I love the smell of the word.  I like its sense of possibility.  I taste freedom when I listen to the music of Aaron Copland – music that could only have been written in a country which once had vast prairies and seemingly infinite wilderness.  I feel it in my body when I run along cliffs in the rain.  I rejoice in the sense of it that comes when, after hours of shifting dead words and sentences, something suddenly comes alive and beauty spills out all over the page.   OUTER FREEDOM In an outer way, to be free means to enjoy liberty of action under a government which is not despotic and does not encroach on individual human rights.  In an inner way to be free means becoming liberated from the relentless forces of doubt, self-criticism and fear which we all inherit growing up in emotional and educational environments which split our mind from our body and teach us not to trust ourselves.  They teach us to put our faith in “experts”.  They teach us neither to honor the splendor of the individual human soul,nor do they tell us that the universe is filled with compassion which we can draw on whenever we need support and power which we can direct to create whatever we want. EXPLOITATION It makes me laugh to see the way our commercial world tries to sell the experience of freedom:  Freedom?  It means wearing a top of the range pair of Levi’s doesn’t it?  Sipping white rum on a tropical beach with a sexy lover.  Taking a 100 miles an hour ride on a Harley across the desert at sunset.  Or surfing that seventh wave.  On film these things carry the freedom buzz.  For a little while they let us imagine the real thing, even though they are only a pale facsimile of it.  These days we get offered freedom in all sorts of ‘packages’.  They range from TV ads offering telephone sex, to weekend seminars promising instant enlightenment. Some people, in their search for freedom, end up sniffing cocaine. Others dance all weekend at a festival.  A few turn to philosophy or look for freedom in ancient religious practices.  They head off to India or to California to sit at the foot of the guru and hope that somehow he will hand it to them.  All of these things—from rum and cocaine to raves and yoga—offer a taste of freedom.  Some—like drugs and alcohol—are more transitory than others.  When they wear off, so does the sense of liberation they once promised, to be replaced by a post-freedom hangover.  Others, like transpersonal psychology, or Mahayana Buddhism run deeper.  The freedom they offer is slower in the making but it lasts longer.  Every experience of freedom brings with it a sense of being released from imprisonment – of being able, even for a short time, to respond to life spontaneously with the whole of your being. Look up the verb to free in the dictionary.  It will tell you it means to release from bondage or constraint, to deliver, to disentangle from obstruction or encumbrance.  And quite right.  When we talk of freedom we often speak of it as freedom from.  Money worries for instance, or responsibility.  Sometimes we tell ourselves, ‘If only I had this or didn’t have that, then I’d be free’.  Other times we indulge in dreams of freedom—sailing across great expanses of sea with the wind in our hair, or crossing the Sahara on a camel, or building a wooden hut in the woods and living there, or partying until dawn every night.  Yet how many times have we gone on vacation to be ‘free of our worries’ only to find we packed them in the suitcase under the new underpants? FREE FROM WITHIN Like the proverbial iceberg, most of us live with the lion’s share of our potential for freedom, joy, creativity and power submerged beneath a sea of unknowing.  We go about our day-to-day duties and pleasures conscious only of what comes to us through our five senses.  How does it taste and feel?  What does it sound like?  What do we see in front of our eyes?  Meanwhile beneath the vast ocean of consciousness that constitutes what it is to be fully human, our greater selves hibernate waiting to be awakened. Sometimes, when we fall in love perhaps, or when we are faced with an event of life-shattering proportions like a critical illness or the death of a close friend, the submerged area of our being erupts in magic or horror, in surges of passion, energy and beauty.  Then for a time the mundane quality of our everyday life is replaced with a sense of expanded being.  We not only feel more alive, we wake up to find that familiar things—the tree that stands outside a bedroom window, a cat that greets us when we come home each day, the simple shell we picked up and slipped into our pocket while walking on the beach, have taken on a luminosity that we can’t explain.   Other times without warning, while listening to music or walking down a city street, we are suddenly hit with a feeling that the world is far greater than we ever imagined it to be, or a sense that all we see around us somehow is us – we are all part of the same stuff.  While the experience lasts everything seems right in the world.  Then, like the sun at the point of setting, it all fades beneath the mundane horizon leaving only the faintest wisp of color to remind us that we once stood in its glory, felt the rays of the sun upon our bodies and knew that sense of being at one with the universe which makes every struggle seem to have a meaning. SET OURSELVES FREE In the next few months I intend to explore in this blog the nature of authentic freedom, where it comes from, how we access it within ourselves and help foster it in others. Never in recorded human history have there been greater forces attempting to undermine individual human values and crush human freedom. I choose to look upon the forces that want to limit our lives, drain us of our health and our self-esteem and turn us into sheep, as worthy opponents. The burgeoning Orwellian world in which we now live can become the worthy opponent which awakens us to our deepest values and spurs us to access the strength to fulfill them. Together I believe we find our way through all this to greater freedom than we have ever known and the birth of new life. Let’s do it. Watch this space...

Apple Detox

Apple Detox

A few days on apples once in a while can eliminate retained water, revive flagging energy, make your skin look wonderful and your eyes shine. The apple fast for detox was taught to me fifty years ago by Dr Gordon Latto, a Scottish medical doctor who used nothing but food and breathing techniques and a few herbs to heal even the most complex and chronic conditions. Eating as much as you want – but only apples – in place of your regular meals, and in between too if you like, for two days cleans your body, helps clear away food sensitivities, and banishes the ravages of unnatural appetite. For two days all you have to do is to eat apples, and nothing but apples. Your body will do the rest. It’s a time to be luxuriously lazy and self-indulgent, to enjoy the process of getting rid of all those wastes you really don’t want hanging around in your system making you look and feel low. No pregnant or breast-feeding woman should do an apple fast: neither should anyone with a kidney, liver or heart complaint, for in such cases any sudden change of diet carries with it potential dangers to health. But if you are generally well, a short apple fast is a great way to clear away the cobwebs. Check with your doctor first if you have any doubts. HEALING DISCOVERY It was the apple which first led the great Swiss physician Max Bircher-Benner to develop his system of treatment based on living foods. Bircher-Benner was himself ill with a liver ailment, which made it virtually impossible for him to digest anything. One day, as he lay in his bed unable to rise or eat, his wife slipped a piece of fresh raw apple between his teeth. He tasted it, and to his surprise he found he could tolerate it. Several days – and many raw apples – later he found himself well again. He never forgot the humble apple or what it could do to detoxify the body and to help restore normal functioning to digestion, cells and the circulation. He used apples regularly in his dietary treatments of obesity and other illnesses. In fact, they formed the basis of his Bircher Muesli, which has become world famous. WEEKEND RETREAT My two day apple fast is designed to be done over a weekend is not even a fast, for you can eat as much as you like – but only apples. The reason the apple fast is done over a weekend is that the process of elimination can use up a lot of energy, so it’s a good idea to do it over two days when you are not working. The apple has long been known as a health tonic, medicine, cosmetic and bowel-regulator all wrapped up in one skin. When eaten, it stimulates the secretion of digestive juices. It contains natural substances that help prevent digestive and liver troubles. Where unsweetened apple juice is the traditional drink among country people, there tends to be no incidence of kidney stones. The simple apple is traditionally used for eliminating obesity, as well as being a folk treatment for skin problems, bladder inflammation, anemia, insomnia, intestinal parasites and bad breath. QUEEN OF CLEANSING The adage ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is not just an old wives’ tale. The apple is quite rightly known as the queen of fruits. In its natural whole state, it supplies valuable fruit sugar and vitamins in a superb balance to ensure that your body can efficiently digest and use them. The apple is our richest fruit source of vitamin E and also provides a good supply of biotin and folic acid – two B-complex vitamins important in preserving energy, emotional balance and in keeping your digestive system clean and functioning well. It is also a fine source of vitamins A and C, which are both natural antioxidants – powerful anti-agers – not to mention more than a dozen minerals including sulfur, potassium, iodine, silica, magnesium and calcium, and even essential amino acids in small quantities. Apples are low in acidity to help balance stored bodily wastes which tend to be acidic. They stimulate the flow of saliva in the mouth, and clear away debris from the teeth. Eating a raw fresh apple stimulates circulation in the gums too. Finally, apples are rich in a very special form of soluble fiber called pectin which helps to clear out the dangerous heavy metals such as lead and aluminum that we all pick up from our city air, food and water. OUT WITH THE UGLIES Heavy metals in your body are something you want to get rid of. These elements, the concentration of which has increased dramatically in our air, foods and water since the Industrial Revolution, can seriously interfere with your body’s metabolic functioning. Mercury tends to suppress the levels of white blood cells in the immune system. Cadmium displaces the essential element zinc needed for a great many of your body’s enzyme systems, and renders them inefficient and even inactive. In the West we now have a concentration of lead in our bodies some 500-1000 times that of our pre-industrial ancestors. High levels of this heavy metal age us prematurely, interfere with our mental processes, suppress immunity and contribute to depression. Aluminum, another heavy metal, detrimentally affects the central nervous system. The presence of all these elements in excessive quantities (and their concentrations in the human body appear to be increasing with each passing decade) generally interferes with your body’s metabolic processes. The ability of apples to remove heavy metals from your system is one of the best reasons for doing an apple fast, particularly if you live in a city. RADIANT FIBER The fiber that apples contain really is remarkable. In addition to cellulose (the most common kind of fiber, which binds water and increases fecal bulk), the apple is also rich in pectin – a very special kind of fiber with quite exceptional detoxification properties. So different in texture and character is pectin from other forms of fiber that it is sometimes surprising to think that they are classified in the same group. Unlike cellulose, pectin does not bind water, it is water-soluble. It has no influence on fecal bulking, but it appears to be an excellent substance for lowering cholesterol. It may also help eliminate bile acids from the intestines, thus short-circuiting the development of colon cancer and gallstones. It is also useful as a natural chelating (binding) agent which is why it is so good at mopping up unwanted heavy metals, such as aluminum, from the tissues and eliminating them from the body. This can be very important when it comes to detoxification for weight loss. READY SET GO Get yourself a big bag of the freshest apples you can find – perhaps three or four different kinds for variety. If you don’t like the look of your apples you won’t want to eat them, so be picky. Buy a box of apples if you like, your greengrocer might give you a discount. On this pre-cleanse day it is a good idea to get your system ready. Avoid tea, coffee, alcohol and soft drinks. Steer clear of bread and cooked carbohydrates such as pasta and cereals, and make your last meal of the day a large raw salad made of fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t have anything else to eat after your salad, except perhaps a cup of herb tea before bed. This will give your body a good 12 hours head-start on the elimination process and it will thank you for it. THE APPLE FAST There’s really nothing to it. Over the two days you have chosen, tuck into your apples. Eat as many as you like at any time of the day or night. You must eat the whole apple including the peel, the seeds and the core. Don’t worry about the belief that apple seeds are poisonous. Any expert in natural medicine detox will tell you they are not only perfectly safe but an important part of the cleansing process. Chew well, until the last drop of flavor has been extracted from the fruit. The only part you throw away is the woody stem. You must eat your apples raw. You can munch them whole, or grate them and sprinkle a little cinnamon on top. You can even put them in the blender with spring water to make a drink. Eat nothing else during this two-day period, but eat them whenever you are hungry. Do not drink tea or coffee. You may have a herb tea or two such as peppermint, lemon balm or chamomile with a few drops of the best stevia if you wish. Drink lots of pure filtered water, but nothing else. BLISSFUL RELAXATION Be lazy and luxurious.  During these days indulge yourself doing whatever is pleasurable for you. Many people find their sexuality is heightened during these days. If so, enjoy it. Apples are great to munch in bed. In many ways, the most useful thing about the apple fast is the way you can call on it when you most need help to get you back on the rails again. We all slip up sometimes – we over work or over indulge and live to regret it the next day. A two day apple fast, or even just a day spent eating only apples, is an excellent ‘quick corrector’. Spend even just one day munching apples and it will help set all to rights again, so that when you awaken next morning you feel more like your old self and ready to face the day full of energy. RENEWED VITALITY Apple fasting gives you the chance to step back regularly and take a look at your lifestyle, instead of mechanically going on day after day without being aware of where your energy is going. Set aside two days, three or four times a year – a weekend is best – for an apple fast. This will spring clean your body from the inside out. Even apple fasting for one day a week is a great boost to vitality and good looks, because it helps detoxify your body of wastes accumulated as a result of drinking or eating too much, or consuming the wrong kinds of foods. It can also help calm the ravages of an over-enthusiastic appetite, which many people suffer as a result of food sensitivities or over-stimulation of the digestive system. Furthermore, it is an excellent discipline: such a practice helps you break through ingrained habit patterns, which can make us largely unaware of how we are eating.

Fasting - What's The Buzz. Part One

Fasting - What's The Buzz. Part One

The media is suddenly obsessed with fasting. On one hand, this is a good thing. The right kind of fasting can be a tremendously powerful tool for rejuvenation, weightloss, restoring insulin sensitivity, promoting human growth hormone—the anti-aging hormone—and lots of other things. Fasting can clear your mind and body of what is preventing you from living your life on top form. What worries me is the way so many wild fasting practices have turned up recently. One day it’s a cure-all for everybody. The next it leads people to binge on junk foods. So what is all the buzz about? Fasting is a powerful tool. But it needs to be taken seriously, fully understood and carefully followed. In recent months I have had a number of people join our Cura Romana Journey or Inner Circle Gold on line programs who were in trouble after their metabolism became all screwed up by their having tried to follow one of the current fast-yourself-slim diets. This is a sad state of affairs. More unbiased information about fasting, its blessings and its drawbacks needs to be forthcoming. MY LIFE IN FASTING When it comes to fasting of all kinds I’d wager there are few who have researched and experimented with it as long as I have. I was introduced to the ancient tradition of fasting in my mid-twenties when I had been unwell for many years, and it changed my life. I first wrote about intermittent fasting more than thirty years ago in The Joy of Beauty. I’ve continued to research and write about it in many other books since. I became fascinated by the profound healing of body, mind and spirit that takes place when people fast wisely. I have done so many kinds of fasts—juice fasts, water fasts, fasts using nothing but free-form amino acids, and intermittent fasts. I’ve just about tried them all. I even did a 40 day fast on water then spent the last five days of it skiing at St Moritz. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS I remember well the healing physical effects of carrying out my very first fast. My head became clearer and clearer. After the first few days my vision was so sharpened it was as if I were looking at the world through a crystal glass. It’s impossible to describe the changes that took place in my thinking and my emotions during the fast. I can only say that the world looked different. I realized that there was so much beauty around me which I had continued to miss. Fasting made me stop and think, stop and feel. I found delight in the simplest of things—just sitting under a tree, washing vegetables, or combing my hair. Everything seemed important. I found I wanted to do everything with real awareness. I also gained a sense of distance from my own problems, enabling me to make the decisions facing me calmly and quietly. As a result, since then, whenever I feel myself hung-up over something or whenever I sense I’m not seeing things clearly, I will quietly fast—often just for a day or two until I feel clear again. To some people this may seem an eccentricity, but not, I believe, to anyone who has actually tried fasting. DAYS ON DAYS OFF The buzz now, however, is intermittent fasting. This form of fasting has many faces. Some are better than others. The most lauded at the moment is where you spend two or more days a week drinking water while during the rest of the week you eat “normally” either with or without a very low calorie diet for the purpose of losing weight. The right kind of fast, while eating the right kind of foods, is indeed capable of facilitating weight loss provided you are capable of following it religiously for several weeks, while your body shifts from a glucose-based metabolism to a fat-based metabolism. But, even with the best will in the world, very few people can carry out this exacting procedure for long enough to allow this important metabolic transformation to take place. The second problem with days-on-days-off fasting is that it tends to precipitate binge eating during eating days. Few people understand that if you want to benefit from the experience you must rigorously fast when you are meant to be fasting and avoid binge eating on the days when you do eat. It’s essential, too, that you alter the kind of foods you eat if you want good results both in terms of weight loss and enhanced health for the future. MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE The other way to practice intermittent fasting works much better. It is a lot easier to carry out and protects your body from unnecessary strain. Here’s how it works: Instead of the day-on-day-off practice, commit yourself to eating only during a specific window of time—say 8 hours— each and every day. This is convenient and do-able for almost anybody, and it protects you from bingeing. You do all your eating between, say, 11am and 7pm and have no food or drinks except clean water and herb teas in between. For example, you skip breakfast and make lunch your first meal of the day, and you don’t eat anything after 7pm that evening. How does it all work? It takes from six to eight hours for your body to burn stored glycogen in your tissues after eating carbohydrate foods. Once this happens, your system starts to turn towards fat as its primary fuel. After a few weeks of this time-restricted fasting, food cravings that may have dogged you for eons are likely to have disappeared. (And you can take organic coconut oil which is rich in short-chain fatty acids which are quickly broken down to deal with any food cravings.) But you absolutely must be choosy about the foods you eat during the hours that you are eating. Download my little book Healthy and Lean For Life to learn more about what kind of foods protect from weight gain, foster natural weight loss and create powerful protection from degenerative diseases. It is free on the home page of www.curaromana.com in the lower right-hand corner. SPONTANEOUS INTERMITTENT FASTING So natural a procedure is fasting that in some cases it can happen spontaneously. By the time most Cura Romana participants have completed 24 days on the Essential Spray+Food Plan part of their program, and are ready to move into Consolidation, they are already fasting intermittently. At this point in their program the body has been taken through a process of deep cleansing. Food cravings have long since disappeared. Control centers for appetite, emotions, and hormones are functioning well so their food preferences are now excellent. Quite spontaneously most participants choose to skip breakfast. They say they love the vital, empty feel this brings them. They don’t need to be taught how to do intermittent fasting, they just do it. What has happened to them is that their bodies have already become adapted to burning fat instead of glucose for energy. Unnatural hunger is gone and sugar addictions no longer exist. HEALTH PAYOFFS The benefits of this kind of intermittent fasting are many. The procedure of incorporating this practice into your life becomes easy and natural. It is the start of a new way of living and eating that helps protect us from degenerative conditions long into the future. Here are just a few of the benefits it brings: Insulin sensitivity increases. So does the efficiency of mitochondrial energy, helping to slow aging and disease. Stress resistance improves dramatically. Oxidative stress diminishes since the body’s proteins, nucleic acids and lipids are protected from much free radical damage. Next week we can delve further into fasting—intermittent and otherwise. We’ll look in greater depths at the powerful therapeutic potentials it can have for weight loss, metabolic improvements, even as an effective treatment for mental and emotional disorders. We’ll examine its spiritual dimensions as well as its advantages and disadvantages. Then we’ll clarify who should and who should not fast. See you then.

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana®

Fast, Healthy Weight Loss

Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana® has proudly supported 19,000+ weight loss journeys over the past 14 years. With an overall average daily weight loss of 0.5 - 0.6 lb for women and 0.8 - 1.0 lb for men.

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 27th of June 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

-0.98 lb
for women
-1.04 lb
for men
-0.98 lb
for women
-1.04 lb
for men

Yesterday’s Average Daily Weight Loss:

on the 27th of June 2022 (updated every 12 hours)

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