Why I’m sucking on cloves

For as long as I can remember I’ve always made sure I’m not the girl with the bad breath and have always chewed gum or mints-most especially after drinking coffee as I’m not a big fan of the after taste nor coffee breath. Fresh breath, sugar-free, healthy gums and teeth are what I had in mind when I’ve added mints to my shopping list.

These days when I look through the supermarket aisle I’m presented with a huge range of mints and gum. The certain type that seems to have increased in popularity lately are the mints that come in the handy metal tins. I’m not exactly sure why these have appealed to me but I’ve been buying them for a while now.

However, lately I’ve been thinking more and more about just how many tins I’m going through and how much waste I’m creating for the earth. I feel better when I always make sure I place them into the recycle bin, but I’m still not happy with my decision to go through so much waste.

I’m writing this as I myself explore natural alternatives along the way. For the past few years I have adapted the mindset where I live as close to nature as possible and am continually looking for ways in which to improve my daily habits. Below I explore what’s actually in my little tin of mints.

Looking at the front of the tin I’m happy to see the mints are 99% sugar free and peppermint flavor. Turning the tin over to the side panel I’m greeted with the following:

Sweeteners (950,955)

Sorbitol

Peppermint Oil (1%)

Anticaking agent (470)

Natural Colour (153)

Sweetener 955

After the most basic of research it’s pretty clear to see I’ve fallen victim to some great marketing techniques utilised by mint and gum companies, whereby they are able to get away with listing their product as “sugar free” or “99% sugar free” but still use a sugar by-product. Sucralose or sweetener 955 is a sweetener that’s doing just as much damage, ifclinic-doctor-health-hospital-large.jpg not more damage than sugar itself.

Many reported side-effects include blurred vision, weight gain, gastro problems and migraines. While it’s a sweetener commonly found in larger products such as ice cream, beverages and confectionery, you might think that with the small amount of mints and gums you consume in a day that you won’t be affected by these side-effects. If I personally think about the days where I’m habitually sucking on mints then I want to put myself on caution.

As sucralose is artificial and produced in a chemical plant, it’s not natural, nor does the body recognise it and therefore we are unable to process it or metabolize it. Unfortunately very few studies have been carried out on humans but typically have been carried out on animals-namely rats.

The effects of 955 on rats being enlarged liver and kidneys, red blood cell count decrease, aborted pregnancies and an obvious drop in fetal weight.  The effects of sucralose on the body are more closely reported on by The Sucralose Toxicity Information Centre although the studies are last updated around 2008, they still give us a fair insight into the dangers of consuming products containing this sweetener.

Sweetener 950

Acesulfame K or sweetener 950 is yet another version of sugar, reportedly being up to 200 times sweeter than sugar on its own-a figure hard to divulge! Studies carried out on laboratory rats call for a reassessment of the safety of this sweetener for human consumption due to potential cancer risks being identified.

This is most likely due to Acesulfame being a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride-a known carcinogen often found in pain strippers, electronics and paints. Side effects of consuming Acesulfame is a reduction in the good bacteria in your gut of up to 50%. This is rather disturbing as your body relies heavily on gut health for overall health. Other side effects include dizziness, respiratory problems, weight gain and migraines.

Unfortunately any studies carried out on humans (limited) show little impact of this chemical on the body as the trials have never been carried out for any longer than four days. If only data existed to show the effects of a lifetime of consumption of this sweetener.

Sorbitol

Another sugar alcohol that is slowly metabolized by the body. It is the main ingredient that is linked to diarrhea, therefore many gum or mint companies will place a warning on their packet to the effect that excess consumption may have a laxative effect.

Sorbitol is commonly found in dieting products and is heavily linked to a large range of abdominal issues including bloating, increase of stomach acid and heartburn.  I know if I consume too many mints throughout the day I have mild abdominal pain which I can only link to their intake. While sorbitol isn’t as nasty as sweeteners I still would want to limit the intake of products containing it.

My newly discovered alternative

If you’re anything like me, you want a breath freshener that’s convenient and you are ableindian.jpg to use on the go. That’s probably why you are also buying mints or gum (or were!) and that’s why the marketing for these products are so successful

Looking into healthy alternatives, Mukhwas is the little spice mix often displayed at the counter when you pay for your meals at Indian restaurants, often with a small wooden spoon resting in the bowl.

It contains an array of nutritious seeds and spices, used as a breath freshener or after dinner mint and also to aid digestion. After searching around for a recipe, I found countless varieties and was taken back by its historic origins throughout many cultures around the world.  Such a simple and natural alternative!

Cloves

I’m going with the singular selection of just one of the ingredients commonly found in the Mukhwas, whole cloves as they seem like the best size spice to have on the go.What’s more, cloves are packed full of nutrients such as magnesium, vitamins A, E, D & K and zinc- to name just a few.

They aid in digestion, reduce flatulence and nausea. Cloves also boost the immune system, are anti-carcinogenic and contain certain flavonoids that assist in healthy bones by preserving bone density. There are many reasons why cloves are great alternatives to mints or gum:

-Like ever lasting gobstoppers you can suck on a clove for hours and it won’t perish.

-Cloves have a mild, warm and sweet after taste.

-They have great antiseptic properties which is handy in general, but also if you feel a coldcloves.jpeg coming on suck on cloves throughout the day to prevent a full blown sickness.

-When you’ve finished you can just throw the clove back to the earth where it came from.

-I noticed a rather calming effect on my mind.

-Inexpensive and plentiful.

-I’ve decided to store my cloves in a cute twist top container with hand painted lines drawn around the outside.

That’s a wrap

As with most man made products the problem is that so little study has been carried out as to the long term effects of the use of artificial products in our every day living. If anything presents a potential risk, especially to the level of being carcinogenic and has had basic research revealing damaging effects to the body then I want to be avoiding putting that product anywhere near my body.

Resources:

The potential dangers of Sucralose: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/12/03/sucralose-dangers.aspx

Complete list of sweeteners: https://liveto110.com/complete-list-of-artificial-sweeteners

Aspartame cancer hazards: http://science.naturalnews.com/pubmed/18085058.html

Methylene Chloride: https://www3.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/methylen.html

Acesulfame K:http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/02/10/new-study-of-splenda-reveals-shocking-information-about-potential-harmful-effects.aspx

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The Yin and Yang of Surfing & Vegetarianism 

Living on a predominately plant-based diet is a kind of energy that cannot be described unless you experience it for yourself. The same concept exists when it comes to the feeling of riding a wave, only a surfer knows that magic feeling. This to me is one of the great wonders of life, using a limited English language in an attempt to describe something so remarkable, particularly of the energy kind-whether the feelings experienced when in love, the flow and glide of surfboard under feet on a big wave or the flow of clean energy in the body from consuming food direct from mother nature.

There are many reasons why I slowly weaned myself off a meat diet, both ethically through self-education but also predominately due to the vast improvement I found in my energy and overall health. The reasons I find a vegetarianism lifestyle and surfing lifestyle go hand in hand are:

Natural energy 

The fuel I put in my body before a surf makes a big difference in the type of energy that flows through my body with each paddle stroke, duck dive and riding of a wave. I recall one surf in particular. It was a rainy, misty day in a small coastal town and not many were brave enough to step out in the dull ocean conditions.

I had just passed by an old fruit stand on the side of the road and stocked up on strawberries, papaya, bananas and other tropical delights. Having the fruit sitting on my passenger seat meant I had naturally put a large dent in my supplies in the time it took me to leave that fruit stand and make it to the 13015574_10153947667200168_2186227259656749826_nwater’s edge.

I paddled out into the ocean alone and by the time I had made it out the back of the lineup, the shoreline and land had entirely disappeared in the thick layer of fog that encapsulated the coast.

It was an eerie feeling but at the same time I found it comforting and at one with the sea. The waves were inconsistent which left plenty of time for me to sit in my own thoughts and feel each rise underneath me as the swell passed by in small trains. Before even catching a wave that day I recall a deep matching of energy from the fruit I had consumed to the environment around me.

It was kind of an “uh huh” moment for me as I was still in the process of eliminating animal meat from my diet. In that moment it just all made sense. I felt totally connected with nature, like a piece of jigsaw puzzle that had previously been missing from the world around me.

I was a living entity as much as every other animal that walked the earth and it didn’t make sense to destroy their existence for my own survival. Once I truly felt that “bond” with nature and that exchanging of energy I haven’t found a need to consume animal meat since that lonely surf.

Bountiful energy 

The Australian Department of Health recommend you consume two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables a day to maintain good health. While this doesn’t sound like much, there are many people not getting anywhere near the recommended servings. The amount of energy available in fruit and vegetables is pretty amazing.

When I lived in Byron Bay I met a man in his mid 60’s who absolutely owned the dance floors of local pubs every 307025_10150267079195168_8140935_nweekend. He had some serious style given his age, and he managed to pull more attractive young backpacker chicks than guys a third of his age.

The point of the story is not this but rather that I legitimately thought he was a bit loopy. Some of his moves were so erratic surely he had to be on some kind of drug, given Byron Bay’s colourful reputation in that regard. I decided to approach him and try spark up a conversation.

Turns out he had an organic farm in the hinterland with his wife and he loved his produce with a passion. He particularly loved his broccoli and swore to this particular vegetable to fuel his fire to dance all night.

Again, this one moment was a game changer in how I saw natural foods and their positive effect on the human body. Surfing of course is a pretty intense cardiovascular workout and you need all the energy you can get to sustain a lengthy session in the ocean.

Cardio & protein

The fats and proteins contained in animal meats are increasingly being linked to many diseases including cancer, the clogging of arteries, heart attacks and early death (see my article “The truth on cancer” here). The funny thing is many non-vegetarians are so quick to ask where vegetarians get their protein from yet many of the strongest and largest animals on earth are in fact vegan- take for example the elephant and baboon.

The world’sInfographic-the-dangers-of-eating-meat strongest man is vegan and many other vegan athletes and body builders have been enjoying the “vegan limelight” that has emerged of late.

Unfortunately most of the information society gather is what is viewed through television and therefore drilled into their minds and considered normal or right.

It takes enough love and care for your own body to go out of your way and research the true facts which lie in every place other than the TV screen.

The only thing that truly lacks in a vegetarian/vegan diet is iron & B12 which you have to be conscious of where you will obtain these important vitamins & minerals from. B12 is largely obtained from the structure of animal meats and not plants, therefore I take additional one a day B12 supplements.

Lighter periods (sorry male readers) 

A diet consisting of minimally processed raw foods largely of the plant variety have long been reported to reduce the intensity of a menstrual cycle. I recall finding an old hippy book from the 70’s that even described women eliminating their cycle entirely from a vegetarian diet.

I have also found Youtube clips claiming the same, however I find it a bit extreme for the body to completely eliminate a cycle that is so natural to the body! The one thing however that I have noticed since going vego is less cramps and intensity of periods which is another great match being a surfer as I can have plenty more wave time instead of being at home with a hot water bottle on my cramping stomach.

More restful sleep

I don’t know what it is but there is something about the sleep cycle that becomes affected when you have a high fruit/vegetable consumption. It’s like you notice more  of the natural sounds around you, the crickets, the owls, the wind as it rustles through the palm trees.

Again I can only put it down to the clean type of energy, free of preservatives and man-made ingredients that otherwise come with the majority of supermarket foods. I can recall one day my mother saying that she had a terrible night sleep full of bad nightmares for no apparent reason.

She then realised it must have been the marinated steak she had purchased from the meat market, as that was the only thing different to the usual foods she ate. It’s scary to think what was in that meat sauce. More restful sleep=more waves.

Other than the reasons above that I can relate directly to surfing, there are so many other benefits from being vegetarian that I’ve welcomed into my daily living such as:

  1. Deeper passion for all animals great and small.
  2. Conscious choices, guilt-free living, finding the truth about the way society operates, 10455561_10153097108683689_2906821006535925838_n.jpgrealising that most of our supermarkets are stocked with unhealthy food.
  3. Appreciating nature 10 fold.
  4. Rarely visit the dentist.
  5. Meeting like-minded vegetarians/vegans that also have a deep care for their health and for the welfare of animals.
  6. Less and less of my food comes in packages.
  7. Influencing others in a positive way that can improve their health too.
  8. Knowing each cell, tissue, bit of fat and muscle in my body have been built by predominately plants.
  9. Thriving compost for healthy gardens.
  10. No animal blood in the kitchen.

And the list could go on forever…

Resources: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/red-meat-clogs-arteries-bacteria/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/new-study-links-l-carnitine-in-red-meat-to-heart-disease-201304176083

http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/facts/meat-consumption-and-cancer-risk

http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk/vegetarian-starter-kit-protein

Staying connected to nature in city elements

This is something I always struggle with when I find myself in any city for a long period of time, because let’s face it, city living is complete disconnection from the earth, nature and all rhythm and life connected to these elements. Fair enough some people just don’t get it the way I do. Perhaps they grew up in large cities and don’t know any different, or they’re limited by living in a poverty-stricken area of the world where travelling outside of the city is just not an option in their lifetime. That’s where we really have to find gratitude each day for having the ability to step foot in a jungle, a crystal clear ocean, a vast, dry desert or a snow-capped mountain surrounded in glaciers, whatever takes your fancy, some just don’t have access to this-ever.

As a surfer I love to be in tune with nature. It becomes a necessity in order to make the most of the ocean. The tides, the wind, the moon cycle, Surfer girl in cityweather patterns, the formation of highs and lows and structure of the ocean floor. I’ll never grow tired of watching a big glowing moon rise over the ocean. When I took myself away from my existence as a surfer and placed myself in a large city in Northern Thailand for two months, I honed
into the very aspects that make up all the parts of the magic of life as a surfer. And what an experiment it was-gratitude multiplied. When I find myself in the city and it is a lifestyle that goes completely against my soul existence I tune in on the following:

Astrology

This is relatively new to me, I’m talking only the last couple of years that I really started to learn and pay attention to what’s going on in our night sky. Even now, I’ve only touched the very beginning of the iceberg. Just like the ocean herself, there is so much mystery contained within the galaxies. I love how they’re both just so untouched and unexplored, so peaceful and far away from humans and more importantly human wars. AstrologyThe history of astrology is just as captivating as the mystery. The Polynesian culture is renowned for their abilities to successfully and navigate thousands upon thousands of miles of open ocean (the Hokule’a) solely being guided by the patterns of nature. Their biggest natural compass is the night sky. They track specific star patterns and motions that guide them in the direction of their intended travel. This is the same pattern that birds use for navigation. The degree of accuracy is absolutely mind boggling. Read more here: http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/ike/hookele/on_wayfinding.html

So back to sitting in the city glancing out at skyscrapers and lots of concrete. You want to keep your mind on the patterns of the planets. In astrology it is believed the planets are all linked to events within the human existence. You have a bad week and wonder why everything is going wrong. Well if you did some simple research it could all be explainedkaypacha due to the positioning of certain planets. One certain astrologist I tune into each week is a guy called “Kaypacha”. Ok so he’s a long haired eccentric looking guy with rings on every finger, feathers in his hair and a quirky sense of humour- but he knows what he’s talking about. He has an in-depth three-dimensional computer program and he will walk you through where the planets are currently sitting and what that all means in layman(ish) terms. Follow the page “Mystic Mamma” on Facebook as they post his weekly reports. At the time of writing this the latest report is here http://www.mysticmamma.com/kaypacha-report-i-always-get-just-what-i-need/

Of course nothing beats going out and gazing at a night sky with your naked eye but this can be a bit of a struggle thanks to the strength of the city lights and pollution.

Sunrise or Sunset

Again this can be a bit hard because there’s so many buildings and houses to obstruct your view. The body is made to rise with the sun and set with the sun. That was the theory back in the days anyway but how many of us sunsetactually follow this? In summer I become pretty close to this pattern as there’s more light to surf with. The point I’m getting at is when you find yourself in the city, watch as many sunrises and sets as you possibly can to keep your body in rhythm! My most memorable attempt to catch sunset was when I went on a mission to find the perfect spot to take a photo of the setting sun, away from the endless rows of houses and estates. I skated my way down a big hill, walked up the next hill preparing myself for a breathtaking view on top of the world, only to be faced with another rolling hill stacked with houses. So on I went until I made it to the top of the biggest hill and sat on my board exhausted but greeted by a fiery sky and an approaching storm. As the sun set, dark clouds rolled over and thunder began to roar. A classic electrical storm began to form and lightning covered the sky in long forked patterns. That’s when I got a little too close for comfort. The storm literally passed right over my head and lightning began to strike earthward. One was so close to me I felt the heat coming off it and quickly got on my skates out of there! I got a little more than I bargained for, but it sure beat sitting inside the house watching the 6pm news like the rest of the zombified city.

Connecting through the food you eat

I find this a bit hard to explain in word form but if you were to try a detox of pure fruit and vegetables for two or three days you would understand what this feeling is close to. Get creative, juicing, fruit smoothies, vegetable soups, it doesn’t mean you have to eat raw heads of broccoli just to comply-although I do this regularly ;). What you will notice is just how much this type of diet allows you to tap into the natural world around you. It will also supply you with an abundance of energy, pure energy that is-not the same feeling you get from refined sugar and caffeine. Eating raw girl gardening fresh producefoods that are from the earth contain so much life force, especially ones you pick “live” such as bean sprouts. Growing in popularity are little mini-pots of sprouts or spinach that you can sit on your window sill, babysit and add to your salads when you like. I’ve even seen them in big chain supermarkets and I love this positive influence. Wherever you are in the city you can almost always grow your own herbs or small vegetables. Even in an inner city apartment you can do this on a window sill or balcony.

The biggest difference I notice with a largely raw diet is my quality of sleep and dreaming. There’s a certain kind of peace that buzzes around your body and mind, a feeling as if your resting head is so close to the earth that you could be laying directly on a dirt floor, covered in nothing but leaves from the forest and you would be comfortable with that. My dreams are much more vivid and happier, the type of flying dreams and going to natural settings like forests, waterfalls and oceans. This is the topic of another story which I will expand on later.

Chemical free products

It has taken a few years of practice but most of my cosmetic products, household and cleaning products are all naturally derived. I feel as though I am living a hell of a lot more consciously when I choose products that don’t contain scores of unknown chemicals, or even worse known carcinogens that are ending up on my skin. Also thinking environmentally where those products end up- down the drain, I’m able to think about what little thing I am doing for the earth each day. I call it conscious living because I become aware of the way I go about my day and the impact I have on the world around me. I also love the feeling of using natural products knowing I am lowering my risk of getting cancer through unnecessary chemicals.

Meditation & yoga

In line with keeping a healthy mind, body and attitude, yoga and meditation are a must. Meditation comes hand in hand with dream time. meditationTaking your mind into a place outside of thought and just allowing yourself to sit in stillness is vital for staying sane in cities that never “sleep”. It is also especially important if, like the majority of us, are locked
into social media and the virtual world which is far from the purity in which our ancestors were brought up. Yoga is all about being present and freeing up the flow of energy throughout the body. It can become very easy for tension to be locked in certain areas of the body, causing stress, restlessness and short-temper. At worst physical injury can be the very result of holding onto stress or negative emotion, especially internal organ malfunction or muscular degeneration. I ensure I practice yoga daily, if only a quick sequence upon waking and before resting at night, to keep the body moving and energy free-flowing.

So even though it may feel like you’re disconnected from the natural world around you all you need to do is step back into her power and flow. We are all from nature and in the end will return to nature- a simple statement that can often be forgotten in our hectic fast-paced lives.