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Monthly Archives: September 2016

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Hate Needles? Here’s How to Deal When You Go to the Doctor

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What you’re experiencing is called a vasovagal response, a reflex that occurs when your body overreacts to certain triggers, like blood or needles. The triggers stimulate a nerve that then causes your heart rate to slow down and your blood pressure to drop. As a result, you may suddenly feel warm or light-headed, turn pale, or lose consciousness.

To get through a blood draw when you feel dizziness coming on, try the applied tension technique: Tense the muscles in your body for 10 to 15 seconds, then release for 20 to 30 seconds, and continue. This helps raise your blood pressure, making you less likely to faint. Ask to lie down, too—then look away so you can’t see the needle entering your arm or the blood flowing.

RELATED: Finding the Best Doctor For You

It’s not entirely understood why some folks have vasovagal responses and others don’t. The reassuring news is that these spells are usually harmless—and you shouldn’t need treatment if they happen sporadically and aren’t interfering with your quality of life. But if your reaction is constant and so bad that you dread getting immunizations, medical tests, or surgeries, you should consider seeing a psychologist who can help you work through your fear using exposure therapy (in which you practice being in the presence of needles until you’re desensitized to them).

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Do Healing Crystals Really Do Anything?

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Different stones are said to have different healing properties based on their color, mineral content, and energy output. (For example, websites promoting crystal healing tout amethyst as a remedy for sprains and swelling.) Some enthusiasts wear healing-crystal jewelry, sold in special shops or online; others may buy individual stones and keep them close by. If you do a quick search for “crystal healing” online, you’ll likely find a spa or holistic health center in your area that offers healing services using stones, in which a therapist places certain crystals along the “energy centers” (or chakras) of your body to restore positive energy.

RELATED: 4 Health Rumors You Seriously Need to Stop Believing

It sounds hokey, right? From a medical standpoint, it is. There’s no scientific evidence to back this practice whatsoever. Think about it: Placing a crystal on someone’s body to produce an internal change (e.g., erase a headache) does not make physiological sense. But, interestingly enough, past research has shown that crystal healing may have a significant placebo effect for those who believe in the practice, which may actually make them feel better, or at least more relaxed. So if you’re into this sort of alternative medicine, there’s little harm in giving it a go—as long as it’s not a substitute for real medical treatment when you need it.

 

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

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Vegan apple crumble recipe

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Treat yourself with this delightful apple crumble by @silverspies. This crumble is sure to tick all boxes.

What you’ll need (makes one medium pie dish)

4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into slices
1 tbsp coconut sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup water
¾ cup rolled oats
¾ cup almond flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp rice malt syrup
Pinch of salt

What you’ll do

Preheat oven to 180ºC. In a pot on low-medium heat, place the sliced apples together with the coconut sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, lemon juice and water.

Stew apples until all the liquid has evaporated (around 15 minutes). Apples should be tender but still hold their shape.

While the apples are stewing, combine the rolled oats, almond flour, cinnamon, coconut oil, rice malt syrup and salt in a mixing bowl using your hands, until the mixture becomes crumbly. Place the stewed apples on the bottom of your pie dish.

Layer the crumble mixture over the top, spreading it evenly over the apples. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes – until the crumble is lovely and golden.

Allow to cool for 25 minutes before serving up with some coconut yoghurt or vegan ice cream.

Check out @silverspies for more.

Recipe first publishing in nourish magazine.

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A day in the life of a gluten-free guru

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We chat to sports nutritionist, Stephanie Lowe about her gluten-free life.


As a sports nutritionist, triathlete and self-confessed cashew butter addict from Melbourne, Stephanie Lowe is passionate about the health benefits of going gluten free. Her blog offers written posts and podcasts about everything from gut health to fat loss. It also offers delicious GF recipes and Lowe’s ebooks, including Free From Gluten and Real Food Reset. 

My food philosophy

“Real is best. Food that comes out of the ground, from a tree or from an animal is the most nutrient dense and whole source of nutrition. In fact, one of the biggest changes we can make to improve our health is to significantly reduce or eliminate our intake of packaged foods.”

Foods on high rotation in my diet

“Every meal I eat contains many non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and zucchini. It also contains a quality protein such as free-range eggs or grass-fed meat and good fats such as avocado and olive oil. My carbohydrates come from wholefood sources, such as berries and sweet potato. Eating this way offers me optimal nutrient density, blood sugar control, satiety and long-term health benefits.”

Foods I avoid

“I stay away from packaged foods and particularly avoid ingredients that promote inflammation in the body, such as gluten, refined sugar and polyunsaturated seed oils such as canola oil (because they are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which we have too much of in our Western diet). I believe that anti-inflammatory nutrition is the key to my good health today, and tomorrow.”

Why I became gluten free

“I stopped eating gluten nine years ago to help my mental state and heal my relationship with food, which wasn’t healthy. I was so inspired by the changes I experienced that I went back to university to study nutrition at a post-graduate level so I could educate others on the power of real food. Before this dietary change, I was eating gluten every day, whether it was a small amount through traditional soy sauce or in larger quantities in low-fat cereals and muesli bars.”

Health benefits

“Once I stopped eating gluten, my digestion improved, but the biggest change was the emotional impact – I felt calmer and happier. I really began to understand that with 90 per cent of serotonin receptors (our happy hormone) found in our gut, the food that we eat has a significant influence on our brain and mental health.”

Challenges

“It can be tricky when waiters at a restaurant don’t quite understand gluten free, or perhaps don’t take your request seriously enough. The great thing is that in 2016 the awareness of gluten free is quite high and many restaurants code their menu GF, which makes ordering out very easy. Ten years ago it was much more challenging to cut out gluten, as many people didn’t even know what gluten was. Now, as long as you communicate what your dietary requirements are, most restaurants and cafes will go out of their way to assist.”

My transition tips

“The best way to approach gluten free is to focus on real food. If you fill your plate with non-starchy vegetables, quality protein and good fats, and choose wholefood carbohydrates, you are 99 per cent of the way there. Healthy, fresh food doesn’t come in a box, so there is really minimal need for the gluten-free products that are increasingly appearing on our supermarket shelves. Stick to whole and fresh foods instead.”

My day on a plate

Breakfast:

» A berry smoothie with spinach, avocado, coconut milk, cinnamon and raw pea protein

Lunch: 

» Shepherd’s pie with pumpkin mash or a three-egg omelette with a side of avocado and kimchi

Dinner:

» Grass-fed steak or free-range chicken with a rocket salad or steamed greens topped with grass-fed butter and Himalayan salt 

 

NEXT: Think you may be intolerant to other foods? Check out our guide to food intolerances.

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