Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Up your Energy!

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Health
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By Claricia Coeries

We could all do with a bit more energy to get us through the day… So we reach for a quick dose of caffeine. Stop! Healthy grains, fruits, and veggies are a much better option to up your energy.

So you love making great-tasting, flavour-rich, gobsmackingly wonderful food. And not just making it, of course.  The eating, tasting, lip-licking part is usually the best.  But you don’t have a lot of time and you’re usually too knackered to spend hours putting together something tasty, and, well… edible.  So most nights you end up having mac-n-cheese, a sandwich, or stop at a fast-food café on your way for a medium-sized bag of French fries.  Problem is, after a few weeks of fast-food and ready-made packs of carbs, you’re left feeling bloated, your energy levels are sadly drooping and, well, you’re just not the energy bunny you used to be.  In the Duracell ad, you’re the other bunny that conks out after the first half of the lap and need about three battery swops before you make it to the finish line.  And by then, the Duracell bunny has been snacking on carrot sticks, making it to the end of the line in half the time it took you to get there, munching and smiling all the way.  It’s true. Fast foods and ready-made foods are not as healthy as a balanced diet of fruits and veggies and all the good stuff. (Even the Duracell bunny figured that one out.) Staying on top of your game is gonna take a bit of effort on your part – like keeping your batteries charged with high-energy foods and snacks.  As you’ve come to know, energy is a must have when one is trying to keep up with a high-performance job and the buzz of city-life.

Patrick Holford, a world-renowned nutritionist and author of Beat Stress and Fatigue writes that one needs to optimize the intake of the nutrients involved in turning food into energy.  Grains, fruits and vegetables are your three best friends when it comes to finding a way of stocking up on your energy stash. These three food groups can inspire your diet with just what you need to step up your game.


Wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats, quinoa and rice all form part of this food group.  The amylose and amylopectin these grains contain affects the speed at which they release energy.  Since wheat and corn are high in amylopectin, they release energy quickly, which means one has to eat a whole lot of it to acquire a certain level of energy. Oats and rye are high in amylase and are therefore slow-releasing on glucose, ensuring the energy released in your body is sustained over time and doesn’t ‘burn up’ as quickly.  Most rice has a high GI score and contains a high level of amylopectin, so brown Basmati rice is definitely a better, smarter option.


Oranges, strawberries and tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which is good for maintaining good energy levels throughout the day. Grapes, pineapples and bananas, however, contain varying amounts of fast-releasing glucose, which are not as sustainable.  It’s also better to eat fruit fresh and unsweetened. Slice up a few different fruits and make a smoothie – easy to sip for a quick breakfast on your way to work. Grapefruit and cherries also have a low GI score, making them great energy-supplying fruits.


Carrots, peas and sweet potatoes are the richest form of slow-releasing vegetables since they have the lowest GI score. Veggies to cut back on are baked potatoes and parsnips. Veggies that are rich in vitamin B, magnesium and calcium such as broccoli, peas and cabbage restore carbohydrates to the body, increasing the flow of carbohydrates and glucose. Not only are they great-tasting, but they keep the body alive and the mind alert.

Remember that eating for vitality means that you avoid:

–          refined sugars

–          refined carbohydrates, found in white bread, biscuits, cakes

–          stimulants such as tea, coffee, cigarettes

And have more:

–          beans, lentils, seeds and wholegrains

–          fresh fruit

–          fish and free-range chicken and meat

–          water, herbal teas and unsweetened fruit juices

These foods help you maintain sufficient blood sugar levels for consistent energy.  Stimulants are best avoided as they stimulate the release of stress-related hormones, and saps energy.  Eating a combination of grains, fruits and vegetables will help you maintain your energy so you can get the most out of your day!


By Cara-Lee Scheun

At times it seems as if you might have everything and everything just feels good.  You have your own apartment, a good job and great friends. Until one day, when you wake up with a feeling of emptiness, inexplicable and inconvenient. You try to find something to take away this feeling. You feel as if everything is too much trouble to do.  You feel lonely but in reality you are surrounded by thousands of people and no amount of shopping or drinking makes you feel any better. In fact, the only thing you do get is a massive overdraft and an incurable hangover.

According to psychologist and psychoanalyst Dr. Deborah Serani, “you can be basically on the edge of depression because of stress”, and it could lead to full depression. Dealing with stress is difficult, something that seems to be working very successfully is to go back to your roots and find yourself again. 

Without going into all the sensation-stimulation-of-the-brain details, stress occurs when something upsets you. Hormones of stress are released from your brain, which send a message to your body and your body doesn’t like this and sends a trouble message back. This upsets the brain more, so the brain releases more stress hormones and sends back another message, and so the cycle continues. This has been proven over time by many psychological studies, showing how your mind and body are strongly linked to one another, because as your physical health starts to go down, your mental health also declines and vice versa. After a while of a mental and physical decline in your health, it could be hard to break the cycle of stress and both could become much more serious, until depression kicks in.

Going back home means to go back to a place where you once had no worries and lived a relatively careless life, without feeling mentally down all the time. Wherever home might be, it will be the place where you find yourself being relaxed, warm, stable and perhaps find an appreciation for life again. A few things to do when you go back and why you should do them include the following:

«  Familiar and Fun things

First, go back and do all those things you used to do – anything you remember to be fun and with whom you had a great time. Eat at your favourite place or the place that makes the trademark burgers in town and listen to all your old memorable songs. Visit the high school you used to go to, where you had your first dance, matric farewell and the place where you had your first kiss. Go to the park, the best lookout point or catch a wave if there is an ocean. All of this will bring back memories about fun times you had there, the times where problems used to look so big. You will soon realise how small and insignificant those problems are now.  

«  Friends and Family

Visit your good school friends – friends you have been out of touch with and those you didn’t think you would ever see again. Find out what they have been doing for the past few years and how life has been treating them. The same goes for your family; even though you may have left the previous time with a bad vibe, there won’t be one now. Time heals so many wounds, and when you meet again it will all be forgotten. Seek new friends and conversations, look for the most diverse range of people you can connect to and so many new lifestyles will be opened to you. Family is just as important as non-family, both of them help to make you who you are today, and seeing them again will renew your values and attitude towards life.

«  See what’s New and Unchanged

With the pace at which construction is today, an entire city can change in only a few short years, and things that used to be familiar might have got a new look or have totally vanished. Though it’s sad to see how something you used to enjoy so much is now gone and something new has replaced it, it at least shows that your town has made some progress. Rather accept the change than trying to resist it, and explore the new ‘world’ and look for the good within it. If you are able to go back home, it will be much easier to apply this principle when you return to your normal life.

«  Do New Things

Do all of those things you used to say that “One day when I am all grown up, I am going to do…” – now is the time! Don’t delay anymore – do things outside your normal daily life. Some old man once told me that when you are grey and old, the things you regret most are not what you did, but what you didn’t do. Let go of your fears, your past and unnecessary worries, and start to look for new directions in life. Read that book you have wanted to read for so long, take on hiking trails and experience nature like you have never before. Just turn off your cell phone and back away from technology and time will take on an unknown slowness.

«  Letting Go of the Past

Some might find going back home is not even an option because of bad memories, wrong choices, bad relationships with friends or family and sometimes just the surroundings or setting of their home is enough to say no. But maybe one of your reasons not to go back is exactly the reason why you should go. Perhaps after letting go of some issues, you might feel as if you can breathe again without feeling guilty, and be able to live your own life again. As Dr. Serani  said, “People might not realise it, but suppressed memories and guilt work in the same way”. They will keep on bothering you until you actually attend to them, before you can feel at ease. First you have to accept that you can’t change the past. Accept some responsibilities, go back and talk about your feelings and listen to their feelings. Let your emotions and feelings free, speak to a friend, a family member or even write it all down on paper, but don’t keep your feelings to yourself. As soon as you share them, it will be as if you can move forward again.

To go back to your roots doesn’t necessarily mean to go back to your hometown. It simply means to go back to where you came from, the place that made you who you are, where you made your best memories whilst growing up. It is the place where the people who know you best are, and where you can feel renewed once again. This is the place where you will find happiness and strength for the health of your mind. Once you return, be sure to keep the positive energy going, and to create a ‘safe, stress-free’ environment in your home. A place which will remind you of who you are, filled with things that make you feel relaxed and good about yourself.

Embrace Life