Seven Easy Health Hacks

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March 17, 2016

A mistake I make quite often is assuming that everyone knows the same information that I know....do you do that too?  You might do something that really helps you and has just become a daily habit but you never share or talk about it as you just think it's what everyone does? Well these things might really be of help to someone!

So here's my list of Health Hacks...they are things that when someone has noticed me doing them says..'I did not know that! I will do that from now on!' They are all easy, do-able tips that you may or may not do already but at least now they are all in one place as a ready reference.  I frequently do all of these Health Hacks (some of them daily!) and they are great things to do for your mental and physical health in one way or another. You may want to skim this blog and just read the first parts of each hack which is in bold or you may want to know the 'why' of it as well which I have listed underneath.

*Me personally, I'm all about the why! 😉

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1. Sleep Hack

Smart phones. Tablets. Not so good for you at all hours. At night, we have a strict deadline for phones and tablets to be turned off, so at 8pm we put all devices in flight mode and put them away. You may also want to turn your wifi off at the source. Go totally unplugged overnight! There are even apps that will turn the wifi signal off at a time you designate and turn it back on when you choose (Google this as it will depend what type of device you have).

Why?

Two reasons for this. The blue light emitted from your screens actually turns off your melatonin which is your sleep hormone! This hormone naturally begins to be produced by the body when the sun goes down which helps prepare our body for good quality REM sleep. The type of light emitted from your screen actually interferes with this process and the later you use these devices at night, the more awake you become as the body is receiving a signal to wake up and be alert as though the sun was still up! Second reason is that the wifi signals in our home are also causing sleep disturbance (especially in kids) as well as other health issues so turning of wifi when you can is a great idea!  

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2. Make your homemade mayonnaise last longer Hack

Add a tablespoon of whey or the ferment liquid from a jar of sauerkraut to your homemade mayonnaise to allow it to store for several months in the fridge rather than just a couple of weeks. Leave your mayo out of the fridge for 6-8 hours (with lid on) before popping it into the fridge after you make it this way which helps the good bacteria do it's thing and become the natural preservative for your mayo!

Why?

I love homemade mayonnaise as it's so easy to whip up at home with just a few ingredients but it's something that doesn't store for very long without all the preservatives and sugar that you will find in the store bought varieties due to the raw egg factor. I hate waste so making a 1-2 cups of mayo at a time will mean I need a preservative to store it as we don't tend to eat that much mayo in a fortnight! Making your own also means you can use the good oils (olive, macadamia, avocado or a blend of these three) instead of the sunflower, safflower, soy, canola oils that are used with store bought ones. Adding the whey will also create more beneficial enzymes and increase it's nutrient content! It also helps the mayonnaise become firmer and thicker over time which is great if you like a more spreadable or thicker mayo. Here is a great homemade mayo recipe to try if you haven't made your own mayo yet and here is my blog that explains how to make your own sauerkraut and the whey used to ferment it!  

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3. Coconut Water Hack

Make sure you increase your magnesium intake if you love your coconut water. Take a magnesium supplement or make sure you are eating magnesium rich foods such as almonds, cashews, cacao, parsnips and whole grains if you are drinking coconut water daily. 

Why?

Coconut water is becoming a very popular drink and why shouldn't it? It's tasty, good for us and very hydrating due to it's naturally occurring electrolyte content. It also makes a great base for smoothies! But one of these naturally occurring electrolytes that coconut water is very high in is potassium. Which is great for you as potassium helps regulate our blood pressure, regulates the permeability of our cells and helps with hormone secretion, nerve and heart function, protein synthesis and the list goes on. But it does affect the levels of magnesium in our body as potassium is an antagonist mineral to magnesium. This just means that the more potassium we consume, the less magnesium we can absorb from our diet. Magnesium is very important for our nerve function and relaxing our muscles and in fact stress, anxiety and tight muscles are a sign of low magnesium stores. I personally, get muscle cramps in my calf muscles at night if I have overdone it on the coconut water! And if you are making a smoothie using coconut water AND a banana (also high in potassium) you are having quite a high intake of potassium so balance that with a handful of raw almonds or cashews so things don't get too out of balance.

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4. Healthy Swimming Hack

Have a bath in epsom salts after you've been in a chlorinated pool!

Why?

Chlorine is pretty essential in pools to keep the water clean but it isn't the nicest thing to absorb through your skin (read why here) and don't forget we absorb up to 60% of what touches our skin! Both my young kids go to swimming lessons in a public pool once a week and now we have our own pool (new house! woot!) so myself and the kids are pretty much coming in contact with chlorine every day (we live in Brisbane so it stays swimming weather for most of the year). This means we are epsom salt bathers! Having a bath in epsom salts after your swim in chlorine will help draw out the chlorine from your skin. Use about a cup per bath and soak for about 15-20 min. I buy my epsom salts in bulk because the kids have it in their bath every night (it also helps relax them as epsom salts is just magnesium sulphate so they are absorbing all that lovely magnesium before bedtime - I'm not silly am I?) If you don't have a bath, make up a spray bottle of epsom salts and water (add some vitamin C powder for good measure as vitamin C neutralises chlorine) and spray it on your skin after you have showered. You can also use Magnesium Chloride salts or flakes as well which is even better but a bit more expensive.

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5. Nutrient Boost Hack

Nutrient Boost Every Meal You Eat. Every single meal you eat has the potential to be medicine for your body just by adding extra nutrients and it's so easy! These are my favourites: sprinkle nuts, seeds and sprouts on salads and veggies, add sauerkraut to your bacon and eggs, add fresh herbs to anything at all! add chia seeds to baking, smoothies, cereals and yoghurt, add leafy greens to your breakfast, lunch and dinner, top all savoury meals with good fats like avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, macadamia oil etc. Basically look at your plate before you eat and ask yourself: 'What can I do to nutrient boost this meal?' Even if it's takeaway pizza, throw some fresh rocket, basil, a drizzle of olive oil and a spoonful of sauerkraut on top!

Why?

Your food is your medicine. It has the power to restore health, energise you, balance your digestive system and even decrease your anxiety. We all lead busy lives and sometimes our food is not always the medicine we would like it to be. So why not take out some 'insurance' if you like by boosting the nutrients in all your meals when you can and then you will have more nutrient deposits for your 'not so great' days! Always be adding extra goodness so you are in front of your health and not finding yourself hungry, tired, unwell and searching for that instant hit that you get from refined sugar and carbohydrates. I promise you that boosting your meals will have you feeling so much better in no time!  

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6. Meditation Hack

If you never seem to find the time to meditate but you think it might be good for you (ummm, quick tip, yes. It's very good for you) then get yourself an app or two on your phone to help you just meditate for 10 minutes a day. If you never know when you can slot it in because each day is different, set 3 alarms on your phone to go off every day at different times (schedule them when you think it 'might' be possible). You may end up finding that at least one of those reminder alarms results in a quick sit down and listen to your breath moment. You may even have time to stop for all three and wouldn't that be lovely! If it doesn't happen at all on the first day, then it might just happen the next. All you need to do is start up a habit and soon you will be addicted to these precious downtime moments. An app I really like simply because it is just for 10 minutes and is great if you aren't an experienced meditator is called HeadSpace. Look it up and add it onto your phone and don't forget to set yourself some reminder alarms.

Why?

I bang on about this a lot but truly the best thing you can do for your health is to slow down and regular meditation is the best help for this. Choose calm and find time every day when you are just listening to your breath and checking in with your body. It can be overwhelming for a lot of people to begin this practice or carve time out of their day. But I'm asking you to just start with 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes a day on an ongoing basis can make one of the biggest difference to your health. Meditation has proven to help with hormonal balance, anxiety, depression, emotional reactivity, anger issues, suppressed immunity, digestive disorders just to name a few. I think it's one of the easiest things (once it's implemented into your life) to create more balance in your health and your life. Other great meditations I like to listen to are by Deepak Chopra, Happy Mama with Amy and Leonie Dawson   

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7. Gut Health Hack (by Oil Pulling)

Swish coconut oil around your mouth for at least 10-20 minutes every morning, then spit out and get on with your day. This is called Oil Pulling which is an Ayurvedic custom that can truly transform the health of your teeth and your gut!

By keeping your mouth as clean as possible (Yes! And I'm not talking about abstaining from swearing) you might just transform your health. The mouth is the gateway to the gut and researchers have found that a bacterial imbalance in the mouth directly corresponds to a bacterial imbalance in the gut. If you know my blogs and my passion..it is all about the health of the gut so this little hack had to be included but if you'd like to read more about gut health, please read my Gut Health series. Anyway back to oil pulling...so yep, swishing the coconut oil around in your mouth actually draws out toxins, bad bacteria and inflammation and then you can spit out all those baddies into the sink. It won't be just your teeth and mouth that benefits (whiter and stronger teeth, reduced plaque, stronger gums, cleaner tongue) but your whole digestive system will too. Balancing the bacteria in your mouth is helping to balance the bacteria in your gut so who wants to get swishing!? Read more on oil pulling here

 

So they are my favourite Health Hacks, anyone want to share some of yours with me?

 

Yours In Health,

 

Alisha


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