The Easiest and Healthiest Breakfast ever

Easter was originally considered an ancient pagan festival. The word Easter originates from Eastra, which is Saxon for the goddess of spring who was honoured at this turn of seasons. Though we now are surrounded by bountiful chocolate bunnies and eggs, Easter reminds me to once again embrace the humble goodness of the chicken egg.

On Saturday, Emma Morano of Verbania, Italy died at the ripe old age of 117 years. What was the secret to her longevity as a super centenarian? Let me tell you now, it wasn’t Weetbix, puffed cereal or the other standard things we tend to breakfast here in Australia. It was three chicken eggs a day! Two raw, and one fried. Hopefully in bitter, ghee or coconut oil for all those good fats.

Raw eggs contain a nutrient power-house, and in Chinese medicine are considered a jing tonic, which means they nourish the body deeply forking-lasting health, energy and fertility. Eating a raw egg a day can assist the body to eliminate stored toxins and keeps the vital enzymes and nutrients intact.

My Italian grandmother told me that I must eat a raw egg a day to strengthen my immunity, and she was right. It really made all the difference and it is a super quick and very nourishing way to start the day. Traditionally, British women always ate raw eggs during pregnancy as it was an economical and essential way to get all your goodies in.

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In the South of Italy, beaten egg or as they exotically call it Ouvo Sbattuto, is the staple breakfast for the young to the old. Traditionally it is made with a dash of marsala (alcohol), which I believe is to kill any bacteria that could exist in the egg.

As a principle invest in the best and freshest eggs you can find. For more info on this recipe, wander here and please take the plunge and try it, it will change your life!

Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food – Hippocrates.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture, Ivanhoe, Melbourne, Northern suburbs

 

 

Seasonal foods for late Summer in Melbourne

Just as the romantic, balmy evenings wane and summer romance ends, so does the beautiful produce that graces our tables. Before you resign yourself to the winter that ensues; remember to savour the last of late summer produce that tends to be sweet and juicy to moisten our bodies in preparation for autumn 🍂. Autumn is the season where pathologies influenced by dryness arise such as cough, rhinitis, hay fever and eczema.

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Eating in season is a great way to reduce your shopping bill given seasonal produce is available in abundance thus costs less. Given it is fresher, this means it is also full of vitamins and minerals. Eating late summer produce at this time of the year provides the body with energy, the right balance of yin, yang, vitamin salt and minerals required to healthily get through to autumn.

Here is a list of some of my favourite seasonal fruits and vegetables to be enjoyed now in Melbourne:

  • apples
  • banana
  • berries
  • fig
  • grapes
  • pears
  • avocadoes
  • basil
  • beans
  • capsicum
  • carrot
  • Chinese greens
  • cucumber
  • eggplant
  • garlic
  • lettuce
  • spring onions
  • Green peas
  • spinach
  • sweet potato
  • tomato
  • zucchini

As Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”. Don’t worry there are herbs 🌿 and acupuncture to back this up!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Butter is a superfood hero💫

I seriously can’t believe how many people still think butter is bad for you!!! They say it is fattening or unhealthy. Butter is SO delicious and nutritious it should be in everyone’s fridge for good health.

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My favourite butter and the best I believe available in Melbourne is made by the biodynamic cows of Paris Creek dairy. My granny says it tastes just like what butter used to taste like 70 years ago.

Why is butter so good for you?

It contains vitamin A, Lauric acid, lecithin – note lecithin metabolises cholesterol. Grass-fed butter in moderation will not increase your cholesterol levels, margarine and vegetable oils will.

It also contains minerals, Vitamin D, E, K, Activator X and the good fats it contains are great for your hormones.

Butter is a glorious superfood! It even has anti-cancer agents, strengthens bones and prevents tooth decay. It can balance blood sugar and the fats it contains are also essential to children’s brain and nervous system development. It has properties of anti-stiffness factor which prevent calcification of the joints, arteries and pineal gland.

Who can benefit from butter?

Everyone! Babies over 4 months, children, teenagers, women and men, pregnant and breastfeeding women, it’s also great for fertility and balancing hormones. I recommend 1-3 tablespoons per day. It is probably the only dairy food that lactose intolerant people can efficiently digest.

So I urge you to try some real, organic, grass-fed butter and enjoy and feel the goodness!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, northern suburbs

Gut health & immunity: kefir, curd & benefits

The weather is often hot then cold in Melbourne and many people are consequently suffering from cold, flu and poor immunity at the moment as I’m sure you’re aware!

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Enter kefir or fermented milk as super probiotic to replenish your gut bacteria and restore immunity. The theory is that if you are getting sick all the time it is can be due to a deficiency of your natural probiotic flora thus your natural immune defence system is too weak to defend the body from invading pathogens. This explains why some people are more prone to recurrent respiratory or gastrointestinal illness than others.

You can easily make your own kefir at home, you just need a tablespoon of kefir “grains” to start with, which are little white bits full of the kefir culture that will ferment your milk. You can inherit these from a friend or buy them from places like GPA whole foods.

For any friends, family or patients reading this, please ask me for some kefir grains and I will lovingly pass them on – I have heaps!

How To Make Easy Kefir – add one tablespoon of kefir grains in a sterile, clean glass jar then one cup of the best milk you can find, such as goats or full-cream organic, unhomoginised milk. Screw the lid on then place in a dark place (it will die when exposed to light), mine lives in my cupboard. Leave it to ferment for 12-24 hours then pour half in a cup and drink, and top up with a cup of milk again and repeat the process. NB. Only use a plastic or wooden spoon when dealing with the grains, they react to metal.

If your prefer creamy, sweet kefir, ferment it for less time. If you are hardcore like me and love strong, sour, highly fermented kefir then leave it longer.

Along with herbs and acupuncture for immunity, kefir is a key adjunct. It is also suitable to take during IVF, pregnancy, post-partum and for kids too.

Some studies have found that kefir is more effective than therapeutic probiotics, and I love to think my little jar of ❤️ holds the key to good health and happiness.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

 

Wild Rose🌹: mei gui hua for pain, beauty & pms

Admiring this stunning rose today made me think of the herb mei gui hua or dried rose buds (rosa rugosa) that are used in Chinese medicine often for women’s health, periods and fertility.

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The rose is the universal symbol of love has been used for medicine purposes for centuries. It is fragrant, clearing, and mild in nature which makes it ideal for nourishing the liver, moving qi and blood and most importantly clearing stagnation: which in Chinese medicine is a common reason for why we present with pain or illness.

You can make a straight tea or blend the dried rose buds with other herbs such as ginger, peppermint or calendula for men or women.

Benefits of rose tea include it regulating the qi as to calm stress and move tension. When taken regularly it can support good metabolism and weight loss for those with endocrinological disorders: think thyroid. Long-term use of Rose tea clears the complexion and benefits the breasts, you know for that pre-menstrual tension breast pain? Lastly it can ease constipation and help the period flow. Given it performs these functions it would be best taken from 36 weeks onwards in pregnancy.

Drink some special rose tea tonight to your good health!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Are air-con & fans bad for you?

imageFinally the summer, I mean the real Melbourne summer has hit us! With this everyone has responded with blasting out cool air from every air-conditioning and fan unit possible and me telling them to turn it off!

Funnily enough, like being served endless iced water in a fancy restaurant, have you ever wondered if these practices of icing the body are good for you?

Like I continually advise, good health is connected to your body’s source and yang Qi, the beautiful fire and metabolism that keeps it alive and young. When we douce this fire with ice and cold, it can make it flare and go in the wrong places (hot flushes, nightsweats, extreme heat and dryness) or to the point of cooling it down so baldly that weakly burns and gives signs such as cold lower back, feet, sluggishness and diarrhoea.

Full blast air con and fans are not good for your health. Of course it is important to use them in moderation especially if you are struggling in the heat but to have a constant breeze of icy air blowing on you is not good for your mingmen (yang source fire) or your immunity or circulation.

Having studied science at Melbourne uni, it makes sense to me that the constant cooling of a particular area such as the neck will mean that less blood and lymph (thus white blood cells which fight pathogens) is brought to the area as we know heat does the opposite. Long-term this means that any bugs in your throat will not be met by enough of your white blood cell army, causing recurrent sore throat or immunity.

It’s good to be out in a bit of heat if your body is strong and can handle it, nothing like a little sweat and heat pushing toxins out of the body and getting the circulatory system working.

Embrace summer, the sun and the vitamin D it brings us… Winter will cool you down!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Wake up & smell the roses: to your purpose

It’s Wednesday morning and many of you may be thinking, bugger, another day at work and it’s only Wednesday!

Remember before all our complaints and dislikes comes the gratitude for the simple and essential things in life we take for granted. You’re alive! You have choices, you have purpose, you came here to do something and only you can take the risk to find out what it is. We are well off enough to have access to the Internet, a cup of coffee and a roof over our heads. All of these things are miracles that we bypass everyday.

When I coach my clients to awaken to the gratitude and find their life purpose we move out a lot of the crap that is plaguing their lives and blocking them from really flourishing as they are.

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It’s an absolutely divine day today here in Melbourne, so reach over and smell those roses, think about what you have that is good in your life and what you are looking forward to in the future. Only good lies ahead! 🌹

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Hickeys? No it’s gua sha – benefits & action

Gua sha (Chinese: 刮痧; pinyin: guā shā) translates to “scraping sha-bruises”, is a key treatment in traditional Chinese medicine where a clay spoon or tool is used to scrape the skin which brings out toxic heat from the body.

The sha or toxic heat that is brought out from gua sha.

Yes, it certainly looks unsightly, a trail of bruising that could pass for a love bite track or hickey crawl.

However the benefits certainly outweigh the look, especially if you prefer to avoid medication and want to detox the body, by moving blood and toxins to the surface of the body to be renewed and healed.

In my case here the gua sha has been indicated for sore throat. It is amazing how it provides instant relief. The theory suggests that by scraping the neck, the blood brings the pathogen, stagnant qi and toxic heat to the surface, which will take some days to fade. However the internal sore throat pain is alleviated, depending on the severity of it.

Gua sha has a myriad of uses from sore throat, infection, high fever, inflammation, chills, cough, sinusitis, heatstroke to pain and much more. Discomfort can be experienced as the spoon is pressed from top to bottom, however the relief produced is usually instant and many swear by it.

This is a common theme in Chinese medicine where we aim to ‘release the exterior’, rather than always pop pills to treat symptoms, we bring it out through the skin.

As they say, better out than in!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

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The sha or toxic heat that is brought up from gua sha

 

How to relax at night 😴

If you are like me you are probably on your smart phone right now! It’s time to drift off and avoiding technology and screens can help us relax and wind down to get sleepy. Make sure the lights are low, I even find turning the wifi off relaxin just knowing that there is still in the house.

Have a cup of chamomile tea, play your favourite meditation and jump in some comfortable pyjamas.

Going to bed is such a wonderful thing, especially when your bed is made, the room is tidy and there is little clutter to distract you nor to remind you of all the things that need doing the next day!

Thinking about your favourite part of the day and what you are truly grateful for is a special ritual to set your slumber on a sweet note.

That glorious sunshine, the blossoming red rose you walked by, that lovely person who stopped to say hello and smile at you… All these small things make the world a beautiful place and us so grateful and happy to be alive.

Melbourne is a busy city, and we can live crazy lives, but we all deserve some downtime ritual in the evening for a good sleep. Louise Hay even recommends to thank your refrigerator and even your favourite piece of furniture! Mine is definitely my bed.

Thank you bed, I ❤️ you.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

 

Bringing good qi & health into the home with indoor plants

My friend Margi is a big fan of indoor plants, her house is full of clambering ivy and propagated succulents. Did you know that by having indoor plants in your home or office, air can be recycled and cleaned?

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Propagating plants

I always encourage my acupuncture patients to explore some of the vast and fabulous parks that Melbourne has to offer. Getting out into green parks and nature is so good for you, and if you are too busy to get out… then bring the plants to you!

Your local nursery, (I recommend Bulleen Art & Garden or CERES in Brunswick) will have a range of indoor plants or you can propagate your own. Take a fresh, green cutting of ivy, geranium or a succulent and place it in a glass of water. Change the water daily and eventually you will notice roots emerge. Then it is ready to place in a pot with soil.

Benefits of indoor plants include improving immunity, plants can increase humidity in the air so that pathogens are less likely to survive. Bringing an indoor plant to a loved one who is ill or hospitalised can speed up recovery.  Green is a calming colour for the liver energy in Chinese medicine and would you believe that having plants around you at work can increase your productivity?!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture, Melbourne