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Items filtered by date: March 2011
Thursday, 31 March 2011 15:53

To Sleep; To Dream Part 2

Sleep and dream go together like fish and chips or “Fush and Chups” if you are Australian and listening to a kiwi talk about their favourite Friday night or hangover takeaway.

 

I got to thinking this evening after a vino or 2 with a friend about why I started this foray into the 7 Deadly or Capital Sins, I wanted to explore them - were they really as bad as we thought? Or was there something good we could take from them.

I realised that I had no idea about what they were;

 

Sloth is defined as spiritual or emotional apathy, being physically and emotionally inactive.

Interesting. Stop me in my tracks, made me think...

Have we all become sloth like? Apathetic?

When was the last time you dreamt? Waking or sleeping? If you do what do you dream about?

I have spent a large number of years working with a lot of apathetic people. People who wake up from sleeping but are never awake. It has seemed to me that people are bystanders in their lives. Never fully conscious, never full present, they have lost the ability to dream, or have decided that this is their lot in life so have given up.

What I really want to do is scream “WAKE UP!”

We have choice - we can choose to dream and dream big and live a truly extraordinary life or live a life without passion. Because life is use it or loose it.

The choice is yours - what do you choose??

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 21:15

To Sleep; To Dream Part 1

The second of the deadly sins is Sloth.

 

Sleep...

 

I'm a big fan of my bed, of Nana Naps and Cat Naps. Unfortunately, like the majority I probably don't spend enough time there.  I'm up early and get into bed late and certainly not enough time catching zzzzzz's.

 

So just how important is getting 8 hours sleep a night?

Do we really need that much?

What is sleep exactly?

 

According to Wikipedia it is the anabolic state that accentuates growth and rejuvenation of the immune, skeletal, nervous, and muscular systems. The Greeks even named a God after it Hypno (where Hypnosis comes from) and the Romans; Somnus.

Hmmm Growth and Rejuvenation that seems kinda important. How come then, we (and I mean the Royal 'we' here, us humans) fail to get the the required amount to function adequately. So what is adequate/optimal?

It is considered adequate when you have no daytime sleepiness or dysfunction.

 

Come on admit it when was the last time that happened? Seriously? When was the last time you reached for that caffeine or energy drink fix mid afternoon to get you through the afternoon after an all nighter, booze filled weekend, or sleepless nights due to work stress, sick child or new baby. The constant yawning, scratchy eyeballs and grumpiness.

Yet I am amazed by friends of mine that can get by on about 4 hours sleep - me I'm hopeless with anything less than 6-7.  Apparently it is all due to our circadian clocks. That internal clock and the cycle of melatonin and adenosine. We are all different and have different needs. On average though adults need 6-7 hours of sleep to function. Research has shown that inadequate sleep can lead to death by cardiovascular disease, weight gain, hypertension and increase the chances of Type II diabetes.

Western society has become particularly sleep depraved. Slept Debt causes mental, emotional and physical fatigue and it has long been proven that lack of sleep impairs our reaction time (very important in driving) decision making and reasoning at work. Tiredness also impacts our memory - I know when I am fatigued names of people and things elude me which can be frustrating and embarrassing!!

 

So what can we do to improve our sleep quality?

Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning (including weekends). It is in fact better to head back to bed for a Nana Nap in the afternoon than to snooze the alarm or sleep late.

I've found that the more sleep I have before midnight I get the better I am physically and mentally.

Drink lots of water

Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeinated drinks

And eat a balance diet and there are certainly foods that help induce the production of melatonin like turkey and milk.

 

All in all sleep is a very important part of life. I am excited about the prospect of spending a little more quality time under my duvet! Never again will I feel guilty about having a duvet (doona) day or a Nana nap!!

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 29 March 2011 13:11

Chocolate

Truly the food of the gods!

 

I am a long time chocoholic and proud to admit it! Though my tastes have certainly changed over the years. I used to be a big fan of good old dairy milk chocolate. Mass produced and mass marketed. As I have gotten older, my palette has refined and I now reach for the dark chocolate the one with more coco solids and less sugar.

 

Cacao has been consumed for over 3 millenia in Mexico, South and Central America. The Aztecs used it to make a drink they called 'bitter water'. It has been drunk as a drink for nearly all of history and in 2007 evidence was found dating back to 1100 -1400 BC of its use.  When the Spainards defeated the Aztecs the amazing little bean was able to be imported to Europe and in 1657 the first chocolate house was opened in London and in 1847 the first chocolate bar was made enabling chocolate to reach the masses.

 

So are there any health benefits?

You bet!

Chocolate is a champion antioxidant. Antioxidants help rid the body of free radicals, nasty little molecules causing chaos in your body resulting in aging and disease. Antioxidants bond to free radicals and whisk them from your body via digestion and other means.

The USDA published a chart of antioxidant foods measured in ORACs (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Units). For every 100 grams, dark chocolate has 13,120 ORACs, and blueberries have only 2,400. 
Antioxidant-rich diets have been linked to a lowered risk of heart attacks, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer's and more. So it stands to reason that if chocolate is chock full of antioxidants, it's actually good for you.

 

Sure eating a block of chocolate every day is not a good idea, especially the mass produced commercial kind. They contain high amounts of sugar and leithcin to give it mouth feel. Over consumption of sugar can lead to obesity and Type II diabetes.

Good quality chocolate is easy to come by these days and is only a little more than the cheaper poorer quality chocolate.

 

A interesting study reported by the BBC indicated that melting chocolate in one's mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.


As a people we are fascinated by chocolate - books/movies and holidays all centre around the confectionary. It seems that the fascination to chocolate will last for years to come.

Where did I put my chilli chocolate...

Published in Blog
Monday, 28 March 2011 12:00

Coffee

Welcome back!

Over the next few weeks I am going to be doing a series on the 7 deadly sins - looking at different foods/habits in each one and the benefits or not in terms of mental, physical or emotional health.  First cab off the rank is Gluttony...

 

Coffee...

Some might say the magic bean. As a beverage coffee has been around a long time and in recent times has become the drink of choice of millions. 

 

I have to say as a kid I hated the stuff I thought it was bitter and revolting and couldn't understand why my parents drank the stuff. Now I'm a coffee snob. I rarely go a day without my daily cup (skinny flat white) and when I find a great place I go back and back and back. And for me its not just that the coffee is good, its the service, the banter...

I digress

When you think about it coffee/cafes have taken off in the last few years. 20 years ago getting a skinny flat white or cappuccino would have raised eyebrows and funny looks. Now - being a barista is an art form.  There are even National and International Competitions. I heard the other day that in Italy it takes 4 years to become a barista. 

So what makes this bean gold. Economically it is a fast growing commodity for several nations - Brazil, Asia and Africa. First credible evidence of the bean being consumed dates back to the 15th Century. From Sufi Monastaries to Arabia then to the rest of the world.  It does not have a pleasant history either, over 1 million people were caught and sold into slavery from Africa to Cuba where they farmed coffee plantations for 300 years.

There is plenty of contradictory information about coffee out there and certainly the detrimental effects on sleep have been well documented. Also being a bitter drink it can cause an over production of acid in the stomach for some people.  And it can interfere with the absorption of iron.

But is there a benefit in a daily cup?

Turns out there is...

 

In 2009 there was a longitudinal study done that showed moderate consumption of coffee at midlife were less likely to develop Alzhiemers and Dementia. Antioxidants in coffee also prevent free radicals destroying cells. And there has been some evidence to suggest that there is a benefit in drinking coffee to help against Type II Diabetes - though that is not due to caffiene content. 

While the jury might be out on whether this bean has any long term health benefits; I will not be giving up my daily cup any time soon. For me the social aspect of sitting and having a coffee with a friend far out way the negative impacts of it. There is nothing better than sitting in a crowded cafe, shooting the breeze with a good friend and watching the world go by.

Published in Blog
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