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, balmyĀ 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 šŸ‚. 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 shoppingĀ 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 šŸŒæ and acupuncture to back this up!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Butter is a superfood herošŸ’«

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 MakeĀ 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 ā¤ļø holds the key to good health and happiness.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

 

Self-priority: Carving out time for you

It’s the weekend! How many of us run around like headless chickens meeting friends, family, attending engagements, doing thing for others but not ourselves?

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Astrolgically this the year of the Rooster and a recurrent theme is health this year. Some people will be more prone to health problems particularly the skin. This is your year to prioritise your self-love, happiness and wellbeing.

When we spread out energy too thinly in many places with too many people, it can lead to emptiness, loss of purpose and sadness. Why are we doing this and what is the point of catching up with people when you feel run down and exhausted?

Of course wellbeing includes socialising with our loved ones, but we don’t need to do it at the extent of exhausting ourselves into the ground, if someone really loves you they will want the best for you. We can also arrange social activities around well being like meeting at the beach, or a park or a healthy dinner party. One patient told me of a meditation group she started with some friends. Socialising doesn’t need to solely revolve around eating out and drinking alcohol.

Back to thyself, essentially we are here on this planet for ourselves. When we are happy, living our lives to their true authentic purpose then we can share this joy and abundance with those wonderful people in our lives. And who are those wonderful people? People that appreciate and love you for who you are. They will be ok when you say sorry I can’t catch up tonight because I’m knackered. It’s the ones who are high maintenance and demand the world from you that need questioning as friends.

Acupuncture is brilliant for helping you connect to your authentic self if you find it challenging to do the inner work. Don’t give up… You can do it!

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Natural teeth care during IVF, pregnancy, post-partum & menopause: part II

Now on to the fun stuff, so what do we do to prevent gum and tooth problems in these changed hormonal states?

First of all, you need a good dentist and hygienist. Having your teeth cleaned and removed of calculus every six months will prevent tooth decay and gum irritation and recession.

Getting adequate rest is vital, especially if you are sleep deprived your body will create more inflammation and calculus.

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Regular exercise is important to keep your Qi flowing and immunity up, because poor immunity creates more inflammation in the body.

Ensure you get enough essential fats such as grass-fed tallow, ghee, butter and coconut oil. Lots of veggies. Stick to grains or carbs which are properly processed and cultured such as basmati rice, light rye sour dough and potatoes. Whole grains are high in phytic acid, yes think weet-bix and oats! Phytic acid blocks absorption of minerals and excess can cause cavities. Aim to obtain fibre from vegetables.

Other foods that are high in physics acid are coffee, chocolate and alcohol. Seafood, grass-fed meats and eggs are all excellent sources of protein and fat.

Drink enough filtered water, especially after meals. Green tea is beneficial for oral health.

In terms of oral hygiene, flossing gently and daily is important. Oil pulling with extra-Virgin coconut oil for twenty minutes is healing too, just ensure to rinse with salty water or gently brush teeth afterwards. Use a natural, fluoride-free toothpaste such as homemade tooth powder or earthpaste. A daily gargle of some water with half a teaspoon of sea salt is great for the gums too.

And of course minimise sugar, one study found that plaque, calculus and tartar still form on teeth even if it doesn’t touch them because of the high sugar levels in the blood.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent to support your body naturally through these changes in hormonal states, especially if you are feeling unwell or have noticed some health issues arise. Supplements are also important to ensure your body is getting enough Ā minerals, the body is robbed of them during pregnancy and breastfeeding especially.

From a metaphysical perspective gum and tooth problems relate to being wishy washy and indecisiveĀ about life.

Wishing you healthy and happy gum and teeth health.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

Keeping cool in the Melbourne heatwave with Chinese medicine

Hot. Boiling. Overwhelmed.

It’s 37 degrees today, humid and clear. Before you go to sit on your back porch with a cold beer or vino perhaps I can impart some useful knowledge of taking care of yourself in the stifling heat?

Just because it is super hot doesn’t mean you can start chugging down glasses of iced water and hibernate in freezing cold air conditioning. Why? Because it still impairs your yang energy which keeps your body young and healthy. Doing this not only cools your body but can make it internally cold, hence cause health problems in the long term.

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Here are some tips for keeping cool and healthy in the hot weather:

enjoy cooling foods like melons, tropical fruits and summer vegetables: cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini.

herbal teas such as mint, chamomile and chrysanthemum are cooling and moistening and can be drunk hot especially if you are in air-con at work.

let your body get some sun and vitamin D even if it’s just for fifteen minutes, vitamin D is essential for good health and most Melbournians are deficient!

drink lots of filtered water at room temperature

if it is boiling in your house, jump into a freezing cold shower for 1-2 minutes, exasperating but invigorating it will wake you up!

Avoid very heating, fried, spicy food and overeating. Drinks like coffee are best drunk in cool weather, it will overheat you further.

rest, as you know the heat can be exhausting so make sure you take it easy, a siesta when you get home can be nice!

Enjoy the sun and glorious weather, and if you fancy a really cold drink, sip it slowly and make sure you drink it out in the hot weather as you naturally would.

Now time for that cold treasured cold beverage…

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Northern suburbs

 

Dairy: is it good or bad for you during pregnancy and fertility?

Health conscious people these days often avoid dairy products. Is dairy bad for you? Ideally the best dairy will be obtained from happy, grass-fed cows that is raw and unpasteurised. Legislation in Australia prevents the selling of raw dairy. However you can sometimes source select, raw European cheeses from specialist Melbourne delis, and let me tell you they are amazing!

Raw dairy is better for you because all the beneficial bacteria and vitamins are live and present thus it is much less likely to cause intolerance or phlegm in the body. Recently Made By Cow have released raw Jersey cow milk that has been cold-pressed to kill any pathogenic bacteria but retain all the goodies.

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Is it safe to consume this cold-pressed raw milk during pregnancy, for fertility or even give to little kids? Yes indeed! In fact is provides essential fats and minerals for remineralising teeth according to Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay.

Most importantly it tastes amazingly delicious and from a Chinese medicine perspective, a glass of this milk is best enjoyed on one of our scorching summer days in Melbourne.

Some dairy is good for you, especially in raw form and from happy, grass-fed cows.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe

Let them eat cake: enjoying sugar in moderation

Sugar! Ah so addictive! Tastes so good but creates havoc so bad. My mum had my sister and I on a sugar-freeĀ diet as kids so we were very robust and healthy kids. However this meant we had no idea how to eat sweets in moderation.

Being so extreme as to never eat some sweet food is very unhealthy. How many times do you hear of people attempting this then bingeing crazily on chocolate like its about to be extinct? Sometimes a cleanse or break from sugar can be useful especially if you are trying to eradicate candida but if you are generally well I recommend eating sugar in moderation.

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Famous Watermelon Cake, Blackstar Pastry

This is may be once a week or a fortnight, and when you do enjoy that special treat, make it count. Go out for a nice piece of cake and tea at a patisserie that makes truly divine artisan desserts to eat it properly! There is no need to be emotionally attached or guilty about eating food, it is just food.

If you find it difficult eating sweets in moderation, herbs, Chinese dietetics and acupuncture can help. I practice in Ivanhoe, Melbourne and can help you achieve balance in your life. Acupuncture can be effective for addictions, many rehab institutions have used it to support smokers and drug addicts to become free of their habit. We are well into the new year and it is never too late to get healthy and enjoy life.

@Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, Ivanhoe

 

 

Black ginger tea: for phlegm & cough

Yesterday I had a terribly phlegmy cough and during a busy day in clinic was struggling to get my words out. A patient kindly reminded me of an Ayurvedic home remedy for cough: black ginger tea.

Black tea is beneficial for the body as it has phytochemicals and poly phenols. It also contains small amounts of caffeine which stimulate our organs mildly. Tea can prevent cancer and contains antioxidants, and is so calming after a busy day.

As a herb, fresh ginger or sheng jiang in Chinese is key to wellbeing. Ginger warms the stomach and spleen channels, is warming, pungent and can resolve phlegm. Dry ginger is better for very cold and profuse phlegm.

This tea is suitable for taking at the beginning signs of phlegm and cough, particularly clear or white phlegm. Overuse of antibiotics can make phlegm worse, acupuncture and Chinese herbs are a natural alternative form of medicine to help your body resolve phlegm and cough. Excessive antibiotic use can lead to health problems such as diarrhoea, eczema, poor immunity and creating bacterial superbugs.

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Here is a recipe for this tea for you if you feel like a zingy pick me up!

Black Ginger Tea Recipe

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Place 1 black tea bag in 2 cups of filtered water in a pot on the stove. Add grated ginger (2x4cm piece) and bring to the boil slowly. Simmer for five mins.

Strain some of the tea into your favourite tea cup and enjoy, best drunk while relatively hot so the ginger can enter the body quickly.

It’s better to enjoy black tea in the morning as if consumed too late at night it can affect sleep, tea is not recommended in the first triemester of pregnancy either. For kids omit the black tea, add a slice of lemon and a little organic honey (also suitable for pregnancy).

Thanks to my beautiful patient for your kind suggestion ā¤ļø