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The Physical & Mental Benefits of Tea Drinking

As a nutritionist I love the idea that we can eat and drink our way to good health. Consuming things that are beneficial, in a way that is enjoyable is really a nutritionist’s goal for their clients. Compliance relies so heavily on sustainability when it comes to treatment.

A good place to start is always adding good things in. This paves the way for a term coined “crowding out”… whereby you add so much goodness in – veggies, fruit, herbs, spices, teas etc. – that you leave little room for the “not so good”. You also inadvertently create healthy habits as well as healthy taste buds. When your plate is so full of real natural foods, people’s cravings dramatically change. Further, new health rituals are created. One such ritual I love to introduce to my clients is tea drinking.

It sounds so simple, boil water, infuse it with a tea bag, drink. But so often people forget about tea-drinking because they are so busy relying on coffee, downing soft drinks, or not drinking at all. When I introduce herbal teas to my clients, they “crowd out” these less beneficial things, whilst simultaneously boosting hydration. Did you know that thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger? I have found that drinking tea between meals can be extremely helpful for appetite regulation, especially for those perpetual “grazers”.

When it comes to tea, I have been a long-time consumer of Pukka. Not only do they come up with incredible, quality organic herbal blends rooted in Ayurvedic therapeutic wisdom, they are also a socially responsible company with a heavy emphasis on sustainability and fair practices. They go the extra mile to help address the issues of global inequality and poverty through their commitment to organic farming, ethical sourcing of ingredients, use of recyclable materials and over 1% of annual sales being dedicated to global environmental causes.

Pukka teas are certified Fair for Life, one of the highest independent fair trade standards in the world and many of its teas use FairWild herbs. As such, introducing tea into my client’s treatment plans also offers them a way of obtaining a vast array of nutrients from plants such as turmeric, ginger, lavender, fennel, peppermint, tulsi etc., beautiful herbs that they either would never be able to consume otherwise, or simply don’t think to. These unique ingredients each come with their own benefits – for example, turmeric is anti-inflammatory, contains potent antioxidants and is good for brain function; ginger is well renowned for its digestive stimulating properties, reducing nausea as well as supporting the immune system; lavender is a well-known relaxant and can calm the nervous system and improve sleep; fennel encourages a healthy inflammatory response whilst also being anti-bacteria against yeast, bacteria and fungi; peppermint is wonderful for relieving bloating, headaches and freshening the breath; and tulsi is beneficial for the respiratory system and helps with stress relief. I could go on and on!

On top of the crowding out effects of increasing tea consumption, the improved water intake, and the increased nutrition, tea-drinking can actually be mentally therapeutic. Tea ceremonies have a long history in Asia, and whilst can be very strict and involve many steps, at their core, they are about devoting all of one’s attention to the act of preparing, pouring and sipping tea. Similar to meditation, it is a honing in of the senses by focusing on one single thing. This can be simplified and adjusted to suit the individual. I find it great for those with busy minds, or those who are not quite open to or interested in a more traditional meditative practice. The next time you make a cup, really focus on setting up your mug, opening your tea bag, smelling the herbs, boiling the water, and pouring it from the kettle into your tea cup. Again, smell the aroma, allow it to cool, sip slowly and enjoy the warmth in your palms and the different flavour notes.

Combining these physical and mental health benefits of tea-drinking with the exceptional quality standards, focus on therapeutic ingredients, unique, delicious flavour combinations and commitment to ethical practices, a cup of Pukka really is a “feel good” experience! I share this information with to hopefully introduce more “crowding-out”, increase your consumption of quality tea, and inform you of the wonderful work Pukka does so you too can make conscious choices. There has definitely been a shift of high quality, organic, sustainable brands from niche to the mainstream. When more people jump on-board by supporting fair companies with these brand principles, the positive effects on the planet cannot be overlooked.

If you are interested in learning more about Pukka, have a look at their website here. I love their Pukkapedia!

Part 3 My Health Story: Vegan, My Food Philosophy, Eating For Longevity

Several people had recently mentioned to me a movie called Cowspiracy, and I had this feeling in my gut that it would change my life. I wasn’t prepared for this, I was still of the belief that I needed animal protein. I knew if I watched just ten minutes of it, I would go vegan. Nevertheless, when my boyfriend, Mike (who had been vegetarian for a year at this point), said that he wanted to watch the movie, I knew all signs were pointing to the obvious – to stop living in ignorance and make an informed choice. So I did. I was wrong, within the first three minutes I decided I was going to go vegan! Mike and I said we would trial it for one month, which easily became two, and has now become a lifelong commitment.

There are many moral reasons I could list – environmental concerns, animal welfare issues – let’s be honest, we all know them, we just try not to think about them. And for sure, that is what breaks my heart and what grabbed my attention at first. You see, I am of the belief that what is good for the macro is good for the micro – so it makes sense to me that the best diet for us as beings on this planet, should be compatible with the environment and other creatures around us, so that it is sustainable. Therefore the choices we make for our health, can and should support the vitality of the world around us.

However, most interestingly for me as a nutrition student, it came down to the cold hard facts regarding the correlation between standard western diets and disease, and the way in which we have allowed mainstream media and food marketing to distort our beliefs, our instincts and our relationship with eating. We have become entirely disconnected from our food; what it is, where it comes from, what it does for us. I came to realise that there are far bigger holes in the western diet than “protein-deficiency” (which is extraordinarily uncommon, by the way), and that a diet centered around real, whole-foods makes the most sense on a biological and biochemical level.

Why is it that for almost every chronic illness, a vegan diet is prescribed and found beneficial, yet to healthy people, it is perceived as harmful, or wrong?

It just makes no sense!

As a health coach and nutritionist-in-training, I am fully aware of the fact that I will be presented with clients that do not wish to embrace a fully vegan diet. People don’t change overnight, and my own journey is a perfect example of that. My aim is to encourage you to eat in a way that is conscious, vibrant, and sustainable. So to do that, I stand by simple principles that can be applied to everyone:

  1. Eat more whole foods that exude life, not death – this includes plant foods, raw foods, fermented foods, sprouts, herbs and weeds!

  2. Don’t fear entire food groups – Carbs, Fats or Protein;

  3. Don’t fear any whole-food – that goes for fruits, dried fruit, grains and white potatoes (the common ones people, my past self included, seem to view as “bad”) – we live in a world where artificial sweeteners and processed protein bars and shakes are deemed “healthy”, but the banana, a whole-food, given to us by nature, is bad… really?

  4. Cut processed and refined foods, particularly refined sugar; and

  5. Source, prepare and eat your food consciously and mindfully.

 

I believe that we all need to reprogram how we look at food. Yes it is yummy, comforting, and often celebratory, but do we stop and realise that it is actually a source of energy? No. Do we truly understand that food is a source of nutrients? Not those supplements you occasionally pop, but real, beautifully packaged, naturally intended vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and fibre! No. Do we make the connection between the food we put in our mouths and the way we feel? Mood, energy levels, digestive discomfort, sleep patterns, hormonal changes? NO! What’s more, is the connection made between our food choices, and our susceptibility to disease?

NO. I don’t believe the majority of the world does view food this way.

My vegan journey has taught me many things, but one of them is certainly regarding the way in which I view food. I view it as a source of nourishment, as preventative medicine, as my ticket to vibrance, vitality and longevity. I don’t want to wait until I am sick, I want to be consuming the diet that ensures I stay as healthy as I possible can right now, in this moment. And I believe, we all could do with eating many more plant foods.

So, this is what leads me to where I am today. Happy, healthy and vegan! I was reluctant to “announce” it to my readers and friends because I didn’t want to seemingly push my beliefs onto you, but mainly, because I wanted to feel it in my own body first so I could speak from some experience. I can now say with conviction that this is my lifelong way of living and eating. It is not a diet, not a FAD, or a ploy to get thin or look a certain way, it is a lifestyle choice to consistently feel optimal and live a long and healthy life.

If I can encourage you to do anything, it is to make the connection between food and your overall health, not just your size. Start thinking about how many greens and other veggies you eat daily, and begin to incorporate more into every meal, and even every snack. These are the foods that will enhance your health, not inhibit it. Losing weight, feeling energetic, getting thick hair and nails, glowing skin, are just happy side effects. But I believe the intention is important:

let’s eat for longevity, not looks.

Thank you for reading, your support means the world to me.

Love & health, always

Sami xx

 

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