Slaying dragons- The toxic characters of our lives

It can naturally be very easy for us to hold grudges about past relationships that have turned sour. The realisation that the person you loved so dearly, was capable of unforgivable acts can be a painful pill to swallow. And one that I’m sure we all have the joy of experiencing. At least once in this lifetime. However, with forgiveness and time, comes a much deeper understanding as to why they crossed your path, even if they left an initial trail of destruction.

Recently I wrote about a two month trip in French Polynesia (here). It was a time where I shrewdly ignored many red flags, which ultimately exposed me to some much bigger dangers. A time where my heart wasn’t ready to be handed over, but I did so anyway.

I found myself encountering some unsavoury characters, while based on a very remote island somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  Unfortunately, one of those characters had hijacked a piece of my heart, which bit by bit I took back rightful possession of. Right before abandoning him somewhere in the archipelago.

I learnt a lot about the law of attraction. Where bad guys attract, well, even badder guys. I also learnt that while paradises can exist before your eyes, living nightmares can french polynesiaco-exist in that very same space.

When these people come into your life, it can be a mind numbing experience attempting to find any feasible explanation of a reason why. Why you deserved the treatment. When you know you’re a good person that innocently just wants to find love.

It can’t be that hard can it?’ and ‘why me?’ can be the beginning of a series of very dangerous thought patterns that invoke victimhood. A pattern that needs to be avoided at all costs.

Why did I meet them? I learnt the hard way not to look for answers immediately, but rather to trust that an eventual realisation will come my way. Perhaps months, if not years down the track. In the meantime, you need to take advantage of an important period where you can give yourself the love that others cannot.

My big realisation came about after a certain area of my mind was tickled, while writing65169_10151137360180168_400812489_n the above article about my time in French Polynesia.

without my involvement in a particular surf project, my dreams to travel to this part of the world, would continue to remain unfulfilled.”

It was the first time I ever really appreciated that crossing of paths. Any negative emotions that had been lying dormant, towards that particular person, was replaced with a feeling of gratitude. And it seemed to fit much more nicely with my spirit. While the dormant emotions did not pass my thoughts for a very long time, it was still a part of my heart that needed to be cleared.

And then today another realisation washed over me.

If I never had met him, I never would be spilling these words onto this page for you to read”.

Because I would never experience what it’s like to work on my writing business from anywhere in the world. That business idea wasn’t even a possibility in my mind until he mentioned it while we were together.

My experience would be dubbed a ‘light bulb moment’ but I think we need to extract every element of cliché about it, for these thoughts hold a lot of power. I couldn’t shake my spine-tingly moment even if I tried. And the timeline for that realisation I had today? Almost two years in the making.

These are the realisations that have the potential to shape the most vibrant futures, where dreams can be fulfilled in their entirety. These moments are not mediocre events. In the end it is the destroyer of hearts that must face their own darkness.

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Why you should know about the psoas muscle

It’s amazing to realise the level in which stress affects not only your emotional, but your physical body. Particularly the amount of tension your muscles hold as a result of that built up stress.  I’ve been practicing yoga for the past ten years and couldn’t imagine a life without it. I’d say there’s nothing better matched to a life as a surfer.

I first heard about a strange muscle called the psoas muscle, pronounced [soh-ahys] from my wise yoga teacher many years ago. Much of his practice had a big focus on this particular muscle, that literally holds your torso to your lower legs and controls everything from how you move to how you flex. It affects your strength, mobility and also provides stability for your vital organs contained above its shelf-like structure.

Do you spend much of the day seated?

I view hip opening exercises, and yoga in general, to be absolutely vital if you lead a largely sedentary lifestyle, such as an office job or even driving for long periods of time. The biggest focus for you, should be stretching the psoas muscle given how significant its role is within Where-the-Psoas-Muscle-is-located.jpgyour body.

I always ask myself, “how is my posture and flexibility going to be when I’m 80 years old?” A lady in my yoga class is well into her 70’s and is more flexible than those a third of her age. Including myself.

I’m also sure to start with small daily habits, knowing that these are the building blocks for long term habits (which I wrote about here). You already know how quickly time can pass by. Don’t you?

Understanding fight or flight

The monkey or reptilian brain is our inbuilt response mechanism, linked to fight or flight, and controls the release of adrenaline and cortisol. It also slows down blood flow to larger muscles when needed.

You may already know about stress related illnesses such as adrenal fatigue, which is an overloading of the sympathetic nervous system. This condition can result from leading a fast-paced life, where you’re continually trying to keep up with holding a full time job, looking after the family, fitting in exercise routines but seemingly never finding enough hours in the day to get everything done.

In stressful situations major muscle groups, including the psoas, are on alert and ready to fight yoga for healthor help you flee out of danger. To be continually placing pressure on the psoas is where the trouble begins.

Lower back pain

Holding onto stress in particular leads to muscle tightening and shortening. When this happens in the psoas, it can lead to many other issues particularly within the lower back.

You may complain of lower back pain and therefore book a massage. The massage may feel great at the time but doesn’t really get to the core of the issue.

Much like a doctor prescribing medication but not examining the root cause.

The shortening of the psoas muscle can cause radiating pain in the surrounding muscles. The psoas will contract if you spend a lot of time seated or engage in high cardio activities such as running.

Of course I’m not ruling out other medical conditions related to lower back pain, but it’s certainly a topic that may arouse your curiosity and make you think twice about signing up for that yoga class!

image courtesy of: http://www.enhancephysiotherapy.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Where-the-Psoas-Muscle-is-located.jpg

Passion lives here

What if you lifted all the pressure off yourself to perform in the blank areas of your life where your passion does not live and focused on the aspects you could never get enough of? Being a great lover. A great surfer. An adventurer and a free-spirit whose soul couldsurf lifestyle never be touched by anyone that comes into your space.

I’m not saying that blank areas are small and meaningless segments of your life. Quite the opposite. Your job for instance. How many truly love their 9-5? Sure it’s great if you do but luckily not all of our minds are created equally. I truly believe a life without passion is not much of a life at all and you’ve been taught, or even promised, to find it bountifully in all the wrong places.

Get a degree, work your way to the top, crush all below. How many of your passions are left untouched, collecting cobwebs amidst the chaos of chasing a career or a car or a house? tropicsDecades fly by. What if you so strongly felt in your heart of hearts that you’re put on this earth to just love. To just surf. To give others love. To give your kids your all. None of that has any monetary value yet all are ultimately priceless.

If you’ve found your passion in a very particular area of your life then that’s what gets your fire burning. Your vibration lifted. Take that energy and let it spill to those blank areas because you already found your purpose with so much certainty.

Think of finding passion as akin to being truly, madly, deeply in love. Your world just lights up.

Your underlying resistance that was once unexplainable vanishes. Things flow with ease and grace. You give more and can receive more. Stop wasting moments worrying about aspects and spaces that will never hold any value to you and only you. I’m not sure why, but things just start to make sense when you find your passion.

What you were looking for might already be in front of your very eyes.

The Wild Things

I feel my fiercely independent nature weaving into my daily life most profoundly when I sit still. I’m a wanderer, a drifter, a gypsy who’s never really found a home other than in the hearts of those whose souls call to converse with mine. But more often than not, I find my home in the ocean because its lines seem to run deeper than the thread of another. Floating above the earth’s surface encapsulated by sparkling blue waters, I feel it’s all the comfort and reassurance I need to get by.

The last full moon rose in my sign of Cancer and I hadn’t felt the need to crawl in my hardspiritual shell and tuck my claws away as strongly as I had in this moon’s pull. It wasn’t until after I felt waves of sensitivity, to everything, and an almost overwhelm, that I placed my eyes on an astrology report that spoke just to what I was feeling.

I’ve read that the stars and planets are a reflection of the current happenings on earth and that they are deeply in sync. Those that can whisper those reflections back to us have a gift of communicating with the universe.

I am a believer in astrology, not that I know too much about it, but I want more of its grounding explanations read to me to put everything in its place. I like things neatly in their place.

The moon brought out in me a feeling of panic, an overwhelm that I’ve been overseas for so long that my communities have spread so wide that they feel almost out of touch. Sometimes I forget that many can still reside in my heart, if not in my presence. I’ve thrived for so long in the vastness of the ocean on my own.

Watching the sun lazily rise above the misty horizon. Schools of bait fish passing through to disturb the ocean surface. The tide changing to create strong currents sweeping out to sea. Lone dolphins happily exploring the curves of the ocean floor.

I desperately wanted to scamper to find groups of friends, feeling I could easily distractlost island myself with resolution by external source. As the moon seemed to pull I pushed harder in return. I needed quiet. I needed to explore a corner of my soul that hadn’t been touched for so long.

Today as the moon wanes to barely visible, I feel the cooling offshore breeze from the furthest mountains on my face.

I feel it so deeply that I nearly trip over my own feet after I close my eyes and breathe it in. I was reminded of seasons that we’ve all left behind, cycles that come and go and the need to slow down and observe. To stay out of the chaos.

Authentic connections are what I most crave. If it’s anything less then I’m OK to get lost in my vege garden, talk to my dog, read about mythology and theories on our existence. I just want what’s real. Why don’t you go out and socialize…maybe another day. I want to learn a little more about myself.

The land of dreaming

Surfchickareta

I’m a big believer in dreams carrying significant messages or images of the predication of the future places, people or situations you might encounter. I also believe strongly in Déjà vu and its powerful meaning and confirmation that you are on the right path in life. Surely Déjà vu is intertwined with some parts of our dreams, either that, or we are re-visiting the same scenario that we faced in a previous life.

Now with dreams I’m not talking the weird ones where you sleep with your best friend and wake up feeling nauseous or find yourself ridingNew Zealand exploration giraffes in the outback. To me, those type of dreams are just plain weird and I can never find any foreseeable explanation of what just occurred in my mind imagery.  The type I want to talk about are certain places I seem
to visit consecutively for nights, if not weeks on end…

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Understanding Carbs

Are you looking at improving your overall energy and vitality? Do you want to surf for carbohydrates for healthlonger periods especially when you have back to back consistent swell? Whichever your needs and goals are, it’s important to understand the pivotal role that carbohydrates play within the body as carbs are your primary source of energy throughout the day.

Carbohydrates assist in the proper function of your nervous system, metabolism, brain function & clarity and muscle repair & growth.  When you consume  carbohydrates, the body then breaks it down into simple sugars and is absorbed through your bloodstream. The pancreas in turn releases insulin which is needed to transport the sugars from the bloodstream into your cells. It’s important to understand the difference between the two main types of digestible carbohydrates:

Simple Carbohydrates

  • Only contain one or two sugar molecules strung together.
  • Fuel the body for a short period of time, much like a sugar high. This can lead to subsequent consumption of takeaway foods or packaged foods as you are left unfulfilled.
  • Are often heavily processed such as candy, soft drink and cereals but are also naturally occurring in many fruits (the obvious healthier option!).

Complex carbohydrates

  • Contain complex and multiple chains of sugar molecules strung together.
  • Fuel the body for a longer period of time and are therefore the preferable type of carbohydrate to consume as you will be less likely to overindulge in other unhealthy foods.
  • Examples of foods which contain complex carbs are whole grain breads, nuts, legumes, nutritious vegetables, yoghurts and dairy products.

Why carbs are vital for high performance surfingwomens surfing

If you engage in high energy workouts or surf a lot, you probably are more habitual than most in monitoring your intake of carbs as you understand this to be a vital aspect of your training regime. This is particularly true if you wish to gain muscle or lose excess fat.

A diet which is moderate to high in complex carbs provides the energy to get through a workout. A bodybuilder’s diet in particular might combine a high intake of protein to assist in optimal muscle growth and recovery post workout. The higher your energy output, the more fuel (carbs) required.

Carbs and their link to weight loss

As a culture we are slowly beginning to understand that there is no “one size fits all diet” as our bodies are all unique, with different fitness goals and energy outputs, not to mention incredibly vast genetic structures. In saying that, it’s widely know that a diet high in carbohydrates combined with a lifestyle that is largely sedentary is closely linked to weight gain. This is also due to a high intake of fats, sugars and far too many refined foods

stripped of any trace of nutrient. Believe it or not, the Japanese have one of the highest intake of carbs globally, however still remain slender due to their low intake of saturated fats, sugars and refined products and a particular focus on complex carbs rather than simple carbs.

Often those that follow fad low carb diets for weight loss, find themselves low on energy. With careful observation of specific energy needs, it’s possible to reach a fine balance of just the right amount of carbs. We can all learn from the eating habits of Japanese as they have been touted to be one of the healthiest cultures in the world.

Is there an ideal time of the day to consume carbs?

Carbs are either used for energy or stored in the body, therefore you want to ensure everywomens surfing gram of carb you put into your body is going to be used. Consuming carbs late at night is often linked to weight gain for this very reason. The ideal time to consume carbs is at breakfast or lunch time in order for your body to burn through the carbs. However if you engage in high energy sports like surfing, you know to replenish your energy needs pre and post surf, regardless of the time of the day.

The main thing to remember is you don’t need to avoid carbs completely but rather to select nutrient dense, complex carbohydrates and to use them according to your energy output.

Daily Habits

I believe integrating small yet healthy habits each and every day is the key to long term success, overall health and living a truly enriched life. The way in which you move about your day today is an accumulation of previous habits formed over time. Routine used to be happy days surfer girlthe root of all evil for me as I had continual desires to be in a different country every few months, experiencing different cultures and riding different styles of waves.

Now I view routine as an important component of stability and closely intertwines with my habits, not forgetting spontaneity is what distinguishes between a routine and a mundane action.

I love that health seems to be “trending” where many, especially in my generation, are ditching boozy nights out for waking up at dawn for a workout followed by a green smoothie and organic muesli at their local cafe.

Social media in particular has allowed the growth and expression of lifestyle through captivating images and inspirational content and I believe is largely attributable to big trends such as what is occurring in the fitness and health world (and any other industry you can think of).

Small habits I integrate into my day 

Early bird gets the worm

As surfers we naturally know that the best waves often break early in the morning, before the wind has had a chance to make up its mind as to what it wants to do for the day. It’s also a beautiful time of the day around sunrise when the sky is painted vibrant colours andsunrise surfer

usually a good chance to beat the crowds. Other than from a surfing perspective, I always have been an early riser and find it a good time to fit in some form of exercise before work.

I always feel my days are longer and more fulfilling when I get up early and believe it’s a great habit to form. The flip-side is I have grandma like tendencies and am usually in bed by 830-9pm on weeknights, but I do find nighttime a little boring and have never had nocturnal tendencies.

Yoga

When I wake up I love to jump straight into some light yoga even if that means I’m starting out on the mat half asleep. If you watch many animals whether a dog, cat or pet rabbit, one of the first things they do when they wake up from a nap is downward dog (yes I had an indoor rabbit and they even do it!).

Downward dog not only stretches out your entire body but strengthens your arms and legs, stimulates vital organs and encourages healthy blood flow as your heart is above your head. After regular practice you will also notice a much healthier posture and an increase in energy.

While in the evenings I try to dedicate half an hour to yoga, my morning flow is only brief yoga for health-usually no longer than five minutes. I do however notice huge benefits in stretching out for this small amount of time and want my muscles to be a little prepared for a morning surf.

In the morning I focus particularly on sun salutations, spinal twists and hip stretches to awaken my body out of slumber. I find a quick morning yoga session equally as important as eating breakfast.

Health shots

Turmeric

This is a habit that I picked up on when I was in Bali. Sounds exotic but it was actually turmeric health benefitssome trendy Westernised cafe on the beach at Bingin that offered an array of “health shots” on the menu.

I remember getting a little bit addicted to a turmeric shot in particular, aptly called “the warrior shot”. Turmeric has been touted for its enormous health benefits being anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, a known fighter against cancer, a potent source of manganese, iron and a long list of other essential
vitamins and minerals.

I simply stir in one teaspoon of turmeric in a shot glass full of water and take every morning followed by a swig of orange juice.

Apple cider vinegar 

As I’m a coffee drinker I take a particular focus in balancing out the acidity in my body as ACV apple cider vinegar coffee is very acidic and quite harsh on the body.

Consuming processed and acidic foods without the balance of fresh vegetables and other alkaline balancing foods and drinks will leave you open to sickness, viral infections and disease.

Disease however cannot survive within an alkaline environment and it is well researched that many of our modern chronic illnesses have the common denominator of being borne of an acidic environment following a diet of poor nutrition.

Apple cider vinegar is very alkaline and therefore welcomed in my diet. I follow the same regime as the turmeric shot and (lazily) swig from the apple cider vinegar bottle of about 1tbs equivalent then shot it with the orange juice to hide the potent taste. I also ensure a daily intake of probiotics, usually in the form of home brewed kombucha, in order to keep good and bad bacteria nice and balanced. See my post here on making your own kombucha.

Consumption of Greens and fruits

I cannot emphasize the difference that fresh vegetables and fruit play in maintaining my energy levels. Yes many times I’ve had days where I’ve gone without them, usually if I’ve got a long day in transit eating airport fast foods or if I simply cannot access fresh produce.

I notice a huge difference at the end of the day and even the next day as I feel sluggish knowing I’ve loaded my body with processed foods. My secret weapon is always salad. Yes healthy fruit vegetableyou can make friends with salad (Simpson’s song?).

You too need to find what meal it is that you know you can rely on to boost your energy when it syncs with your particular body type.

Find it and incorporate it as much as you can in your diet (provided it’s healthy and nourishing!). When my day is abundant in a high load of fruit and vegetables I can think clearer, my sleep quality is improved, I surf much better and most importantly my mindset about life is so much more positive and I can go about my day with much more grace.

I have always grown my own vegetables and herbs (mostly organic) as I see a vegetable garden as a highly valuable asset given the price of organic produce!

Move those bones!

In Australia the Department of Health recommends a minimum of 30 minutes exercise a day. When you think about how much you walk say to and from work, the supermarket, to the coffee shop or anywhere else throughout the day, it’s not too hard to make up that 30 minutes.

I see 30 minutes as an absolute minimum especially if you’re in a sedentary office job like I am. I strongly believe in the saying “use it or lose it” and create daily habits surf paddlethat increase my time being active.

Luckily as surfers we can participate in a sport which doesn’t even feel like much of a workout as we’re so focused on the conditions around us and are having too much fun to notice just how many muscles in our body we are working out.

I often see boot camp type workouts going on in my local park as I’m walking board under arm out for a surf and always giggle to myself as the participants torture themselves lifting kettle bells and rolling tyres across the green. I always feel like yelling out “buy a surfboard it’s way more fun!” but surfing’s not for everyone and kudos to the guys doing crunches in the park.

Chemical free

While it took me a few years to almost totally eliminate chemical products from my life, it’s something I’m pretty proud of now. It’s an important part of my day to be conscious of photowhat’s going on and around my body.

As soon as you delve into the ingredients of common household products such as shampoo, toothpaste, moisturiser, makeup and all cleaning products, then you totally open up a huge can of worms.

Many companies aren’t required
to list many of their ingredients in their products and the chemicals that are listed are pretty detrimental to our health once you carry out a bit of research.

I always make sure I know what’s in my favourite bought items and if I have to use unknown products then I do so sparingly.

Along with what’s in our diets, the chemicals we surround ourselves in from moment to moment do quickly add up and increase our risk of cancer and other disease especially respiratory, allergic reactions and skin disorders. See my page on chemical free living here.

Attitude of gratitude 

Yes every day be grateful for something. Even if things in your life are pretty average right now, I’m sure you can be grateful for at least one thing. When I lost my job, relationship and house all at once I spent a lot of down time meditating and reading.

I carried out a challenge to write down 50 things that I was grateful for at that point in my life. It sounded1601300_10151881214930168_729639942_n like a ridiculous number but once I got into the flow of things it was actually very easy for me to think of things as simple as a roof over my head (my mums) and food on the table (thank you again mum!).

When life sucks it can seem like there’s nothing that’s going right and you can very easily get caught up in a spiral of negative thought patterns. This exercise helps to break that pattern and form a new habit.

You can feel a notable energy shift in the body when you are grateful for the things you have in your life. Gratitude is basically sending thank yous up above to whoever it is you believe in, whether a God or some other higher power. On that note, find ways to connect to that higher power every day as it will certainly give your life more depth and prevent you from living just at surface level.

Starting out your healthy habits

Setting up daily reminders to start out with is the best way to solidify your habits in theirhealthy living early stages. Set an alarm when you wake up to remind yourself to take part in whatever positive habit you want to include in your life.

Placing inspirational photos or mantras
around the house is something I’ve done since I was a young kid and probably will still do when I’m old and wrinkly. Visuals are a great aid in transforming your life from where you are now to where you want to be.

Remember the brain cannot distinguish between something that is real or something that is imagined. For more on this concept read the article “The Flaw of the Human Brain” which contains a simple brain exercise to help explain in further detail.

There are many other habits I incorporate into every day but the ones above are certainly ones worth mentioning! Remember that if you start out small then you will get the momentum once you start kicking goals to keep moving to bigger things.

Resources

Turmeric anti-cancer: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758121/

Turmeric- World’s Healthiest Foods http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=78

Alkaline environments and lack of disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/

Nutrition for the brain

I’m a big believer in not only feeding your body with the right nutrition but also feeding your mind with nutritional goodness. In a modern era where we are incredibly overloaded with information, thanks to the development of smart phones, it can be hard to gauge just how much we are being bombarded with information each and every time we pick up our devices. By and large this is owed to a combination of human habit and the evolutionary desire to belong and feel included (continually feeling the need to be on top of our news feeds). I also know many of us habitually turning the TV on at 6pm to be on top of world news.

Call me ignorant but I know myself well enough to know that if I overload my mind with the media’s portrayal of the “only” stuff that’s going on in the world today (war, gruesome murders, pain & suffering and out of control politics) then I know I’m going to be left in a pretty saddened state.

Whatever we focus on and absorb, is going to greatly meditationaffect our current state of mind and in turn attract the people and places that are a match to whatever energy we are emitting out into the world.

For example to feel sympathy for all those suffering in wars then to spread those thoughts of sadness to those around you, without taking steps to actually do anything about the situation (like donating money to charities in that country) only creates a negative ripple effect that will continue to spread from person to person.

On the flipside if you were to say donate a small amount of money, you could spread a more positive energy to others around you like “look how many meals I can buy this child in a year“.

After working in high profile criminal law, I saw the truth of what was happening in major cities across Australia and trust me it wasn’t pretty. I also saw how the media continually twisted that truth in order to bring across a story that only exacerbated further fear across the nation.

Why is it that only one story of joy is shared after the weather at the end of the news? This only creates the mindset of “wow look at the world it’s such a terrible place“. Yes I care about wars and famine, but I also care about learning how to become the best version of myself and grow in positive ways that can in turn help others.

Turning a blind eye to the news doesn’t take away that care factor but I simply choose tosurfer girl utilize my spare time to feed my mind with beneficial information that is by and large not mainstream.

Strengthening your mind and taking control of what you focus on leaves you in a much better place than to be a victim of fear. I have dedicated a huge amount of my recent years reading incredibly influential books as I believe almost all answers are held in literature.

If you think about it, with the number of people currently on earth and that have previously walked on earth, surely someone has gone through the same struggles that you’ve dealt with. Realistically there would have to be thousands if not millions in fact that have faced your same dilemmas.

Think about how many of them are authors that have written an entire book on the topic! I also dedicate a small portion of every day to self-improvement to continually strive to be the best version of myself.

I usually turn to influential leaders on Youtube or spiritual masters whose truth rings so clear to me. I find TedX talks expanding and highly educational as they cover a broad range of social issues and personal growth topics. Just remember, when you turn the TV on you’re turning your brain off- at least that is true for sitcoms and dramatic TV series like Housewives or Bachelor!

After four years of volunteering at a local nursing home, I see an energy switch happening all the time. I’ll always make the effort to say hello to the old lady or man sitting on their10301118_10152556715340168_4391682234274403263_n own in the corner with a sour look on their face as I’m intrigued with their stories (and I like a challenge).

Nine times out of ten I discover their viewpoint throughout their whole life was to always focus on the bad things that happened around them and to seemingly have no gratitude for the good things. Remember gratitude will always feed a wild spirit.

I’ll patiently listen to their complaints, however I always try to find a way to then change the conversation to something positive- they are almost always left in a better state than when I first sat down with them, simply by changing their focus. I know that when my time comes, I’d much rather be the old lady running amuck at bingo or trying to pick up on the dance floor then to mull over a lifetime of heartaches.

Kombucha- Brew your own

A friend recently told me he’d been getting into making batches of kombucha at home and excitedly told me just how easy the whole process is. I’ve wanted to try it for a while but in my mind always thought it was a lengthy task and pretty risky messing around with different types of bacteria. After a recent catch up he sent me on my way with a kombucha recipe and a “scoby” in a little snaplock bag with starter tea, which to me resembled something between a mushroom and an alien!

The benefits of kombucha

Finally much knowledge from the ancient East has swept to the West and in particular the view that many diseases begin in the gut. You need a fine balance of good and bad bacteria to support the production and absorption of nutrients throughout the body, to have goodkombucha benefits digestion and strong immunity (amongst other things). Kombucha helps in all of these ways due to the beneficial probiotics contained within. The scoby stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast” and is the “heart” of the kombucha which can be used time and time again and in fact duplicates upon almost every batch. This allows you to spread the love amongst any friends that are interested in brewing their own batch! Kombucha is a refreshing and bubbly alternative to synthetic soft drinks packed with sugar and artificial flavours.

Key benefits

  • Detoxifying
  • Immunity boosting
  • Increased energy
  • Supported digestion
  • Supports a healthy nervous system
  • Decreases sugar cravings
  • Antioxidant rich

Rather than buying expensive probiotic supplements or milk drinks (you’ve seen the ads!) why not try make your own kombucha! It really is so easy and I can almost do it with my eyes closed only after making a few batches.

How to make kombucha

Ingredients

  • 2L water
  • 100ml white vinegar
  • 1x kombucha scoby (you can purchase online)
  • 125ml starter tea (comes in package you buy online)
  • 4 bags of tea of your choice (I use rosehip & black tea)
  • 1/2 cup of raw sugar

Equipment needed

  • 1 x small funnel
  • 1x pot (to hold 2L water)
  • 1x 2.5L glass jar with sealed top
  • Swing top glass bottles for keeping final product in fridge
  1. Bring 2L water to the boil then remove from heat and stir in sugar and tea bags. Then leave to cool to room temperature (I leave mine out overnight). The mixture needs to be cooled otherwise it will kill the important bacteria in the scoby.
  1. Once cooled remove tea bags and stir in your 100ml of vinegar then pour the liquid into a sterilized glass jar (use boiling water to sterilize). Now pour in your starter tea and either allow the scoby to slide out on its own or rinse your hands in vinegar and carefully place the scoby into the jar. Rinsing your hands with vinegar disallows any unwanted bacteria to enter the batch. You want to make sure the scoby is sitting flat on top and not folded in half.
  1. Seal off the glass jar and use a label to mark the date of brewing. Store the jar at room temperature somewhere out of direct sunlight and leave to ferment the kombucha for 7-14 days. Around the 7 day mark I use a straw to slide in under the scoby and taste test- it’s up to you how long you want to leave it to ferment and all comes down to taste.

There you have it! It’s as simple as that! You will find you need to experiment a little with the balance of vinegar and sugar, I found myself using slightly less vinegar than the recipe and slightly more sugar due to my batch tasting too vinegary. It’s completely normal for floaty or stringy bits to hang off the scoby and even turn up in your final product. You will often find the scoby grows a second layer, which can be separated and given to a friend (see below notes) or simply thrown out into the compost.

To continue making further batches places the original scoby in a small seal bag with 125ml of the final kombucha (this becomes the starter tea). It’s important to inspect the scoby and make sure there is no green or black mold and no rotten or unpleasant odours before using it for a fresh batch. Happy brewing!

Image courtesy of Dr Axe (www.draxe.com)

The wonders of burdock root

What I love about the Japanese culture is just how health and beauty conscious they are. We could certainly learn a thing or two from them in our modern Western world and I’ve recently stuck my head in to the traditional remedies that they and other cultures have natural healthbeen depending on for thousands of years direct from mother nature. Burdock root holds some incredible properties and is great to drop a few roots into a cup of tasty miso soup. 

After a bad blood infection and reoccurring large and painful boils on my legs while on an extended trip in remote Mentawai Islands, I decided to look into having a tonic made up from a naturopath that focused on purifying the blood.

This was with the intention to provide my body with relief after the purchase of cheap and nasty penicillin out of immense pain and desperation while in Malaysia on that same trip. The tonic had a noticeable effect on clearing up the boils and it was years until I had only a small outburst of them again (only after coming into direct contact with someone that had them).

I was pretty impressed given my GP had told me boils once contracted can stay in the blood stream for a lifetime and can reoccur at any point.

One of those many ingredients found in the tincture was “burdock root” and while curiously browsing the aisles of an Asian supermarket I found some dried burdock and decided to look at ways to implement it into my diet.

Burdock root health benefits

Other than being popular throughout Japanese culture, burdock has a long history throughout the American Indians and Europeans for its healing properties. It is also very well used throughout Indian and Chinese Medicine for the treatment of various ailments

Blood purifier

Exactly what I was after when suffering from boils. Burdock root is a great detoxifier and has been found to remove heavy metals from the blood stream which develops through poor diet and lifestyle choices. These toxins are effectively removed from the body due to the active compounds of the burdock.

Clean and pure blood means proper organ function, improved circulation and overall health and vitality. I am assuming that the cleansing properties and improved circulation means more blood is able to be pumped to the surface of the skin, therefore having a positive effect on cleansing skin infections such as the boils I had.

Naturopaths will often prescribe tinctures including burdock root extract to patients suffering from psoriasis and eczema with positive effect. Burdock root tea is also applied topically to acne ridden skin and other conditions to improve skin quality. Burdock root also assists in the drainage of the lymphatic system which is commonly full of toxins and waste, and which can easily block the proper function of the lymph nodes which are vital for a strong immune system.

Youthful skin

Again due to the great detoxifying properties found within burdock root, the quality and pexels-photo-112327appearance of skin is improved through its regular consumption. Perhaps this is one of the secrets to Japanese appearing much younger than they actually are (other than their good genes).

Clinical trials find that burdock root also helps to reduce the common signs of ageing such as wrinkly skin. All that time in the sun surfing over a lifetime surely will add up! It’s nice to know there are natural ways to combat the leather skin look.

Anti-Cancer Properties

The removal of heavy metals from the body and consuming foods that are high in antioxidants are both positive steps towards reducing your risk cancer developing in the body. Burdock root is extremely high in antioxidants meaning it is a great scavenger for free-radicals and harmful metals that you simply don’t want in your system.

As with most natural cures for widespread diseases, not enough studies have been “officially” carried out by professionals, but many naturopaths have continually been amazed by the positive effect burdock (in combination with other natural treatments) has on patients suffering from chronic tumors. They put this down to the anti-mutagenic and anti-tumor properties which inhibit the cancer cell growth, disallowing it to reproduce and spread throughout the body.

Burdock root tea

I found the easiest way to introduce burdock root into my diet is a simple tea made fromburdock root tea the dried burdock root. I found a packet of the dried root at my local Asian supermarket for around $4.60. Simply place a few of the dried roots into the bottom of a cup and pour hot water over top, allowing to steep for a few minutes.

Alternatively you can make up a tea pot but I didn’t have one on hand at the time. The taste I can only compare to miso or a slight mushroom taste and I found it quite pleasant to drink. You can experiment with adding honey or sugar if you like, however I saw it as more of a savory tea.

You can also use the leftover softened burdock root perhaps in stifrys as it has a soft mushroom texture or pour more hot water over the top and use the tea topically for any skin ailments. You can also use as a shower cleanser to really take advantage of the wonderful properties of this plant.

Conclusion

Other than those listed above there are what appears to be an endless list of positive properties of the burdock root and I’m sure many more that we are not aware of. Some of those properties include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties which is great for the reduction of painful types of arthritis
  • Assisting with those suffering with diabetes
  • There are around 26 known minerals and vitamins contained within burdock root including iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, B6 and C
  • Improves digestive issues
  • Assists in the treatment of an enlarged spleen (due to a poor immune system)
  • Boosts memory
  • Antiseptic properties
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases metabolism

There are certainly enough articles to be found throughout the internet and herbal handbooks reporting on the great effects of the burdock root and I’m pretty happy to have stumbled across it and have it so readily available.

Read more from Dr Axe here

Resources:

Clinical trials: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21429215

Clinical trials anti-aging properties: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19146605

Dr Christopher’s herbal legacy: http://www.herballegacy.com/Light_Medicinal.html

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/burdock

http://www.naturalnews.com/031390_blood_cleansing.html