Food For Life: The Best Way To Feed Your Body

What you choose to feed your body is one of the most important things that you do to it every day. Are you consistently choosing the right foods to keep your body running happily and healthily? The benefits of a healthy diet are far reaching throughout the body as the old adage says, you are what you eat. The food that you regularly feed your body can affect your organs, immune system, lifespan and your risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Feed Your Microbes Right

You may have heard about the microbes (microorganisms) in your gut and how a balance of good bacteria can counteract the bad bacteria. Our gut microbes control the amounts of fat and nutrients that are processed from our food and eventually absorbed into the body. A recent study has revealed that ultra-processed foods such as lollies and chips feed the bad bacteria in our gut and encourage them to take over the population, pushing the good bacteria out of a home.

A healthy diet involves a range of fibre sources to feed your gut bacteria and provide you with the full range of nutrients that your body requires. So you will need to make sure you consume different foods with different types of fibre including vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts.

Ultra processed foods are defined as containing at least one ingredient that isn’t normally used in a regular kitchen. These extra ingredients are often emulsifiers and flavour enhancers that are added to increase palatability of the food. Ultra processed foods have low nutritional value, are less filling and have been designed to have a better mouth-feel and flavour than the competition on the shelves. This makes you eat more and buy more because your body won’t feel satisfied with just one square of chocolate or one Pringle. Once you pop…

Not only are ultra processed foods designed to make you eat more but they help to feed the bad bacteria in your gut. When you feed your body a range of different foods you introduce both soluble and insoluble fibre into your gut. Both forms of fibre are considered to be good but they affect the population of human gut bacteria differently. More research is required on how they each affect the gut, but what we do know is that a diet low in fibre produces an inflammatory response in the gut. This is because good bacteria break the fibre molecules into short-chain fatty acids which provide an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. When you aren’t eating enough fibre, your gut isn’t protected from inflammation which can kill off the good bacteria. That’s when the bad bacteria can take over. Now you’re in trouble, the bad bacteria don’t produce anti-inflammatory compounds and can make your gut even more inflamed. Over time the low level inflammation causes health issues throughout the body including reducing the strength of your immune system and increasing your risk of chronic inflammatory illness in the gut.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid as of July 2021 https://nutritionaustralia.org/fact-sheets/healthy-eating-pyramid/

Let’s Get Nutritional

As omnivores, humans require a certain percentage of protein to keep our body running. Therefore the body will feel hungry until you feed it the right portion of protein. Protein is relatively expensive so ultra processed foods are often low in protein and instead are filled with high levels of fats, carbohydrates sugars and salt. When we eat a diet consisting of a mainly processed foods we wind up eating more because the body will feel hungrier despite the large number of calories consumed.

A diet high in ultra processed foods is a diet that is low in nutritional value and eventually leads to low quality health. Be aware that these processed foods are “high GI” or have a High Glycemic Index. When you induce a high glycemic response in the body, over and over again, you overwork the organs and cells that are responsible for balancing the sugar levels in the blood. Eventually they stop working as well as they should and this leads to pre-diabetes, then if you let it go further out of control the disease can develop into diabetes. Diabetes is a serious chronic illness that, although common, does require specific care to ensure quality of life.

Due to the lack of nutritional value in packaged junk foods and ready meals, as well as the ultra processed ingredients, people who consume too much can become obese and malnourished. The best way to feed your body is to provide a large variety of food types, sticking to the ratios outlined in the Food Pyramid. Basically the idea is to have everything in moderation but eat mostly plants.

Everything in moderation but eat mostly plants

A diet that contains various sources of fibre is the ideal option for your organs and therefore your overall health.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Please follow this blog and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more health knowledge based in science.

The Science Behind Food Poisoning From Leftovers

Bacteria are an important part of life on Earth. They use enzymes to break down dead matter and convert it back into a form that can be used to create new life. For example, manure and composted food waste are used to feed farm crops or plants in the garden. You might recall the nitrogen cycle and the carbon cycle from chemistry class in high school. Bacteria are vital for these life cycles to continue to work.

Some of these bacteria are able to produce toxins as a personal defence mechanism or they have special ways to avoid our immune system and make a home among our cells, causing an infection. When we have an infection in our gut we call it gastroenteritis, or gastro for short. Several different types of bacteria and viruses can infect the human gut but the term gastro applies to any infection of the gut. The symptoms of gastro normally involve diarrhoea, vomiting and nausea as the infection disrupts the normal function of our digestive system. Sometimes it takes a large amount of pathogen to overcome our immune system, and other bacteria only need to grow to a small population before they can cause harm. So it’s safest to reduce your risk of infection at every step of the food prep and storage process.

The bacteria that can infect our digestive system like to live at around the human core temperature of 37°C. They thrive at this temperature. So if you have a fever or localised inflammation warming up the infection, this is the body’s way of trying to overheat and kill the infecting object, also known as a pathogen. This part of the immune system is non-specific to the kind of pathogen that is infecting the body. The body also has other non-specific immune system mechanisms and some of these are exploited by specific bacteria so that the pathogens can avoid the immune system.

So if some of these bacteria can get past our immune system how do we protect ourselves from being infected with such bacteria that could cause us harm?

How To Prevent Food Poisoning From Leftovers

1. Reheat leftovers properly:

You must reheat your leftovers to above 70°C to ensure any present bacteria are killed. However, bacterial toxins are not destroyed by heat and can still make you sick if there is bacteria present that is generating a toxin.

Freezing does not kill bacteria it just slows the growth down to the point of hibernation. The bacteria will begin to grow normally again when they are brought back up to their optimal temperature for life.

2. Store food properly:

Leftovers are safe to stay at 4°C (your usual fridge temperature) for up to 3-4 days. When you are ready to eat some of the leftover food you should transfer it from the refrigerated storage container to another vessel to heat if you aren’t going to finish it all in this sitting. This will reduce the amount of contamination you introduce to the storage container. If you put your dirty spoon in the container then put it back in the fridge the bacteria from your mouth/the kitchen bench, that is now on your spoon, will slowly grow (because it’s cold in the fridge) over the next couple of days and you run the risk of growing enormous amounts potential pathogens inside the container. Like a petri dish of bacteria sitting in all that delicious food. Loving life. Compared to the small amount of bacteria that can survive temporarily on your teeth will have no trouble increasing their population in your container of food. Have you ever left a container too long in the fridge only to find it has turned into a science experiment?

3. Prepare food properly:

Washing your hands before preparing food will massively reduce the risk of introducing harmful bacteria to the dish. Every time you rub your nose on the back of your hand the bacteria from your nose can be introduced to the dish by accident. If you’re wearing gloves to protect yourself or the ingredients from bacteria, make sure the gloves don’t touch your phone or your hair or skin. That negates the reason for the gloves as they are meant to contain and control the contamination of your work or yourself.

Wash your fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat or cook with them to remove any harmful bacteria and fungi that may have been introduced to the crop during the fertilisation process. Fertiliser is great for plants but not so much for humans.

Ensure cooking times and temperatures allow the entire dish of food to be brought into the “safe zone” above 60°C, particularly for risky meats like chicken and pork. Pathogens can’t normally survive above this temperature but sometimes your microwave doesn’t heat the food evenly, so give it a stir about halfway through reheating leftovers. Or the sausages in the oven need to be turned over halfway through cooking to make sure each section of the sausage has reached above 60°C.

Regarding the dangers of raw chicken and eggs:

Salmonella poisoning can occur if poultry isn’t prepared properly or if poultry manure has touched the surface of the meat or eggs then it is ingested by humans. The bacteria lives normally in the gut of chickens and other poultry. So this means chicken manure contains Salmonella. Sometimes chicken poop gets on the outside of your eggs and not every country washes the eggs before sale in the supermarket. So please always wash your hands after handling eggshells, sincerely, this germophobe right here (me).

But knowledge is power so I feel powerful enough to avoid food poisoning and I hope now you do too. Honestly, all those years of studying microbiology and the immune system at university has helped me through my germophobia and empowered me to live more freely.

Thanks so much for reading! Stay safe and keep your cup full of positivi-tea.

Visit my YouTube channel for more Full Cup Wellness from me, Queeenvk with 3 e’s.

Crafting People Are Happy People

How good is it to just sit back for a relaxing crafternoon (crafting in the afternoon)? It feels so rewarding when we finish a project and stand back to admire our handiwork, so it is no surprise to hear that there are emotional and neurological benefits of learning a new skill and letting your creativity loose.

Scientific research shows that crafting lowers stress and can help reduce feelings of anxiety. Levels of the stress-hormone cortisol decreases during and after performing creative craft activities.

While you’re crafting you are connecting to the present world around you instead of being stuck in the worries of the past or future. Your brain power is taken up by something far more productive and useful for your health. Some people use art as a therapeutic or meditative process to clear and calm the mind.

Inventing new ideas and exploring old ones in a different way can be so rewarding. It brings on those feelings of self accomplishment as well as expanding your mind to see new perspectives.

You’ve probably heard that doing crossword puzzles staves off dementia by helping keep the brain active. Basically, when you don’t use it – you lose it, so if you’re making new connections in your brain you’re keeping it active. Whether your hobby is crossword puzzles or creating a new piece of art, you are keeping those neural connections in working order.

There are many different types of crafts that are available for you to try. Find one that resonates with you and practice it, letting your mind flow with creativity.

My favourite craft at the moment is crochet. It took me a bit of practice, but once I got the hang of it, it just clicked for me. The repeating movements are quite soothing, as long as you take breaks to rest your hands! Here are some of my previous posts related to crochet crafts.

Here is a list of some other crafts you might like to try, maybe there are some you’ve always wanted to try or maybe you will find something new that you never considered before:

Origami/paper art

Painting

Sewing/needlework

Yarn crafts such as knitting, macrame, etc.

Scrapbooking

Lettering/calligraphy

Clay sculpting/pottery

Resin pouring

Flower pressing or flower arranging

Origami cranes

Reply in the comments with the crafts you love and the crafts that you’ve always wanted to try. Which crafts interest you and which crafts have you tried but didn’t like? For me, I’ve tried sewing and embroidery but they are too complex and confusing for me to grasp, whereas crochet clicked in my brain and I understand it a lot easier. Isn’t neurology so fascinating?!

Please visit and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more from me, QueeenVk. ❤

Why Should I Take Care Of My Teeth?

It’s easy to neglect your teeth and take them for granted. Especially when they’re working just fine and not causing you any pain. Invest in taking care of your teeth and gums because you only get one set. When they are damaged the pain can be debilitating and you become vulnerable to a host of other preventable health issues.

Prevention is better than cure

Finding a good dentist is like finding the right psychologist. You need to feel comfortable and safe when you’re in such a vulnerable situation, when the mouth is unprotected and you’ll be experiencing a fight or flight response to subconsciously protect you from potential danger. Find a dentist that doesn’t make you feel nervous and you will find it much easier to make regular check up appointments.

Invest in your teeth because you only get one set…. Unless you have a lot of money or great health cover. If you haven’t taken care of your mouth and you’re experiencing pain when eating then you can appreciate the importance of regular check ups from the dentist. The pain can even eventually prevent you from eating your favourite foods.

Another surprising reason to look after your mouth health is that damage inside your mouth can cause heart disease. There is a lot of bacteria in the mouth, but none in the bloodstream. If bacteria is able to enter your bloodstream through some damage in your gums or mouth tissues, then that bacteria can travel to the heart.

When you visit the dentist and nothing is wrong or damaged, they can still perform a deep clean. This thorough clean will remove the built up plaque that you don’t regularly remove with brushing.

What is plaque and why should I care about it?

Have you heard of plaque? If you don’t remove plaque build up on your teeth it can harden over time and cause your teeth to weaken and wear away. Why is plaque so powerful? Because it’s made up of a biofilm. Biofilms are layers of different bacterial colonies built up over time. The tooth surface is quite smooth which makes it difficult for bacteria to adhere, except for some species of bacteria. These then create the perfect surface for a different species of bacteria to cling to. Then the next species can join on and the next and the next. Each layer creates the pH and other conditions required for the next type of bacteria to take advantage of. But now you have a film of bacteria eating away at your teeth. You need to brush your teeth twice a day, followed by flossing to remove all of the bad bacteria before it can wreak havoc on your teeth.

Acidic drinks and foods like oranges, juice and soft drinks soften the enamel of the teeth. Brushing your teeth while the acid is present and softening your tooth enamel will erode the enamel away. You should wait to brush your teeth at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic food or drink. Or, if you’re out of time, you can dilute the acid in your mouth by swishing with water before you brush.

Brush your teeth and tongue regularly and carefully. Use soft bristle brushes to ensure you don’t cause damage or recede your gums with over brushing.

Toothbrush tip: Keep your toothbrush fresh. Change your brush every 3 months, which is about the time is takes to wear the bristles into that bent out mess. The way to remember this is to change it at the change of the seasons. In the Southern Hemisphere we count the beginning of summer as the first of December. So I changed my toothbrush last week ready for summer. Too easy.

Environmental health tip: Avoid plastic toothbrushes. Think about the amount of toothbrushes that have been created since they were invented. That is too much plastic waste, and counting. To reduce my impact on the Earth I’ve been buying bamboo toothbrushes and wheat straw toothbrushes then reusing them as small cleaning brushes when I’m done. After that the bristles are removed and the stick part either is used in my garden or is put in the compost bin.

Additional note: If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth during the daytime you can speak to your dentist about botox treatments to relax your jaw muscles. This will prevent further damage to your teeth and the inside of your mouth without having to wear a mouth guard during the day.

Thanks so much for reading. Please visit my YouTube channel and subscribe for more from me, Queeenvk. Stay safe and healthy and keep your cup full of positivi-tea.

Posture Matters

Posture check! Are you hunching over your screen or keyboard right now? When you bend your head, like when you use your phone, your neck muscles are working to hold the weight of your head. All of this extra stress on your neck and shoulders can cause headaches, back and neck pain and a permanent curve of your spine such as a hunch.

Another surprising link to bad posture is acid reflux! When you sit hunched over you constrict the flow of digestive juices through your digestive system. This can cause the acids in your gut to be pushed back up, causing that feeling of acid reflux and indigestion.

Studies have shown that good posture has an affect on the mind as well as the body. When you walk into job interview with your head up and your back straight you not only give a good impression on the people around you but you also feel more powerful. Compare this with a shy stance, shoulders rounded and face pointed towards the ground – this gives the impression of a lack of confidence.

While the emotional effects of good posture are important, maybe you’re looking to improve your physical health when performing day to day tasks.

When your neck muscles are straining to hold up your head and your shoulders are rounded over, that extra load on the muscles will cause them to fatigue. You’ll notice pain in your neck and shoulders after sitting at your work desk for hours without a break. Headaches become more common as these muscles are knotted and tensed up.

Note: No one really knows what the knots in our muscles are but they can be alleviated by stretching and massage.

The mayoclinic.org website has this handy advice for using your phone in an ergonomic way to prevent back and neck pain:

Avoid looking down at your phone

Looking down at a smartphone can cause you to flex your neck and strain your cervical spine (A). When standing and looking at your phone, maintain good posture and aim to hold your phone close to eye level (B). When sitting and looking at your phone, sit upright and use armrests — or alternatively a desk or pillow — to support your arms.

Source: mayoclinic.org

There are more ergonomic tips for sitting at a computer or desk. These include making sure your feet are flat on the ground and your spine has a natural arch, without the shoulders hunched forwards.

Source: mayoclinic.org

So remember to hold your chin up. Look the world in the eye. I hope this was interesting and useful information. Thanks for reading!

Visit http://www.youtube.com/queeenvk for more Full Cup Wellness health tips. For some silliness and little handy life tips my tiktok is queeenvk (don’t forget those 3 e’s).

The power of journaling

What is journaling?

The basic idea is that you record your thoughts, emotions and experiences. Normally this is done daily in a book. The act of writing things down encourages the information to be stored more effectively in your memory.

Why journal? Is it right for you?

Writing down your thoughts right before sleep can help to release your brain from the noise of the day. Or you might like to keep record of exciting or happy memories. For example, I have a memory that I wrote in 3 separate journals because it was so exciting at the time. At the age of 10 I watched a dog give birth to a litter of puppies. In my first 10 years of life that was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced and I needed to record it. Eventually my young mind started worrying I would forget my memories and made sure to journal all my family holidays and various events in my life. Now in my 30s I gladly live mindfully in the moment without fear of forgetting the past. We do not need to be attached to our past in a way that affects our mental health negatively.

Writing things down can help you to let some difficult emotions go. Once the thoughts and fears are set out on the page in front of you they don’t seem so big and overwhelming. And bonus, you don’t feel the pressure to keep the thoughts and memories in your head because they’re recorded for you already. That takes a lot of stress off your brain.

According to various articles from psychological research there are positive and negative outcomes to journaling. It can either help you understand yourself in relation to others or it can hinder your self discovery journey if you only concentrate on “yourself in isolation”. The results of a collection of research articles include the following positive and negative outcomes of journaling.

The pros of journaling

  • Encourages you to evaluate your reactions and emotions
    • Identify action vs reaction. Reaction is what we do with our “monkey brain” when we act on impulse without consideration.
  • Allows you to find resolutions to open issues
    • You can see all aspects of a problem when it’s written out in front of you.
  • Clarifies your views and motivations.
  • Focuses your negative energy into creativity and positivity.
  • Increases your tolerance of change and unpredictable or unexpected situations.
  • Improves mental health by making you feel more connected to the world around you.
  • Helps you define your goals and encourages action through motivation.

The cons of journaling

  • Causes negative rumination
    • You live within your own negative thoughts.
  • Prevents you from living in the moment
    • You begin to focus on how you’ll record your life events instead of experiencing them.
  • Makes you become egocentric and obsessed with your needs.
  • Allows you to blame the situations around you but not come to any positive conclusions.
  • Prevent resilience by encouraging thoughts to remain on negative experiences.

Maintaining the habit of journaling regularly can be a challenge. Although it becomes easy once it becomes part of your daily routine. Encourage yourself to keep at it by making it a fun and rewarding experience. Use different coloured pens and highlighters to really engage with your journal pages. I have an old sticker collection from my youth that I’m re-purposing in my journals, cards, labels and craft. Some are those holographic stickers from the 90s, they really jazz up a sparse journal page.

Thanks so much for reading! Comment below with your journal experiences. Or share your tips and hints to make the most of our journaling journey.

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