Red Seal's Health Blog
Top tips for a strong immunity – naturally!
As we approach the autumn and winter months, temperatures drop, nights get longer and winter ills and chills become rife.
Fundamentally we know that there are things that can help keep our immune system strong: A healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, plenty of Vitamin C, relaxation, hydration, exercise, a warm dry environment, lowered stress levels and a good mental attitude. But there are a few others that we can add to the list:
The Sunshine vitamin
Many people are shunning the sun due to fear of melanoma and as a result the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’, Vitamin D, has increasingly become a deficient in many people. The sun helps protect our immune system by stimulating the production of Vitamin D. Generally 5-15 minutes per day of sun exposure on bare skin will give us enough Vitamin D, but many people lose out on the benefits because of limited sun exposure, sunscreen, old age, or deeply pigmented skin.
Good levels of Vitamin D appear to support respiratory health and the body’s natural immune defences, as well as supporting cardiovascular and brain health, and easing joint stiffness.
- Vitamin D absorption needs fats in your diet. So those people on fat reducing diets or taking medication that change their cholesterol levels may being impairing their Vitamin D levels.
- Help your Vitamin D levels by including nuts, avocados, walnuts, flaxseeds, egg yolk, trout, tuna, herring, and salmon into a meal, and consider taking Vitamin D supplement. Cod liver oil also helps with absorption.
- If you think you are Vitamin D deficient a blood test can help determine your levels.
Our Internal Guardsmen
The body system that controls about 70 per cent of our immune system often goes overlooked – it is our intestinal tract. The gut contains hundreds of different types of bacteria; some of them do helpful things like break down carbohydrates in the intestine and produce infection-fighting antibodies and vitamins, while other destructive bacteria secrete toxins and promote disease.
In healthy guts the good bacteria outnumber the bad. When this is in balance, we are not even aware of the role that they do. However, when the bad outnumber the good we can have many health issues. There are two important things we need to help keep our intestinal tract robust: Prebiotics and Probiotics.
Prebiotics are like a fertilizer for the good bacteria to thrive upon. They are indigestible fibres that help to create a good environment in the gut and cleanse the body by helping keep our bowel motions regular. Found naturally in a number of foods; asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, beans, chickpeas, lentils and supplementary fibres such as psyllium, pectin, guar gum and slippery elm.
Probiotics: These bacteria are not just restricted to the intestinal tract but also populate the vagina, bladder, bowel, mouth and lungs. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common probiotic bacteria and there are a number of strains in each of these families.
Our western modern diet has unfortunately managed to process out any naturally occurring beneficial bacteria in many foods, while at the same time feeding harmful bacteria with a feast of processed starches and sugars. In contrast most traditional cultures have some form of fermented food that keep our bacteria balanced. We need regular intake of these fermented foods to ensure the balance. These include yoghurts, Kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha tea and tempeh.
- A recent course of antibiotics (or other medication), overseas travel, signs of digestive imbalance, change of season are all good reasons to add fermented foods into your diet or take a multi-strain probiotic supplement.
The On/Off Switch
Proper sleep is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is like an on/off switch that helps us to reboot, rebuild and rebalance on a daily basis. When we fail to get enough good sleep our body is not able to function well and we have lowered overall immunity.
If you are not sleeping well or getting inadequate sleep then you have to ask why. Is your sleeping environment suitable? Are you drinking too much caffeine? Are you stressed?
Many people refuse to listen to their body, stop, rest and give time to recuperate while sick. Sleep loss not only plays a role in whether we come down with lurgies, it also influences how we fight illnesses once we come down with them. When we are not well, sleep is one of the best healing things we can do.
- Make sure the room where you sleep is completely dark
- Get to bed in plenty of time.
- Have a bath before bed time
- Listen to relaxing music or mediation to help you sleep
- A magnesium supplement can help you relax and prepare for sleep
- Herbs such as Passionflower, Valerian, Chamomile and Skullcap can help the body relax and prepare for sleep so make a good night tea before bed.
- Tart Cherry can also help support production of our natural sleep hormones.
- There are numerous medications that have side effects that include insomnia. So it is a good idea to check the side effects of your medication if you are having problems sleeping.
Power of Vitamin C
Let’s not forget the winter essential! Vitamin C is an important antioxidant for immunity. It helps to strengthen the body’s defences against the dreaded winter sniffles and also helps with healing.
In the body, the antioxidant process is similar to stopping an apple from browning. Once you cut an apple, it begins to brown, dip it in orange or lemon juice, which contains vitamin C, and is stays white!
- Antioxidant rich foods are essential. Fruits & vegetables, whole grains and nuts
- Keep a tub of chewable vitamin C’s in your cupboard and on your desk at work. This will ensure you’re getting your daily dose wherever you are.
Always read the label and use as directed. Supplementary to a balanced diet. Red Seal, Auckland.
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Everyday lifestyle choices to maintain the balance of your mental well-being
For some, physical illnesses are easier to admit having than accepting that they are not feeling one hundred per cent emotionally or mentally. Life has no guarantees that it will be easy. Often it is more like a roller coaster with the highs and lows that everyday living throws at us. Everyday attitudes and lifestyle choices can help us maintain the balance to support mental well-being, ensuring the ability to bounce back from set-backs and determining inner resilience.
Here are 8 easy ways to remain strong when things get rocky:
The food-body-mind connection.
A number of studies have shown people with diets high in junk food have a 51% increase in depression. The relationship between food and emotions is a complex one and for some it can also be related to weight control and body image. The idea that food can trigger physical or emotional reactions may be a strange concept to understand. Many people now link certain foods to triggering physical problems; fatigue, inflammation, constipation, diarrhoea or joint pain. Remarkably, the brain can be affected too. Simple reactions; irritability, anxiety, nervousness, aggravation or depression can also be linked to food triggers with some people. Common food intolerances include gluten, dairy, soy, salicylates, citrus, aspartame, MSG, sulphites and food colourings. Keeping a food diary and a rotational diet are excellent tools if you suspect foods are triggering reactions. Positive food choices such as fruit, vegetables, good sources of protein and grains provide key nutrients; vitamins, minerals, fibre, proteins and phytonutrients that are the building blocks of health and create emotional balance. Researchers have shown key nutrients such as Protein, B Vitamins, Omega 3, Magnesium, Iron and Probiotics have key roles with helping maintain cognitive function and emotional well-being.
A light bulb moment
The industrial revolution and invention of the light bulb has changed our lives and number of artificial controlled daylight hours available. In doing so, it has also meant less time to sleep and the creation of walking zombies, aka ‘The Chronically Sleep Deprived’. Those suffering from chronic sleep deprivation can suffer from weight gain, poor memory, trouble making decisions, poor motor skills, poor judgement and being emotionally over-reactive! It is no wonder that sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture! Living day to day tired is certainly not living life to your best. However, if this problem is torturing you then consider making your bedtime routine earlier and sleeping in a dark, quiet room. There are non-addictive natural remedies that can help with sleep that include magnesium, herbs, tart cherry, and even guided meditations that will help you relax and get a better night’s sleep.
The Water Alarm
At 2 per cent dehydration levels, our inner alarm, the brain, will be screaming that you need more water! Low energy, generally feeling lousy, experiencing mood swings, poor concentration levels are all signals more water is required. Research with women showed that mild to moderate dehydration resulted in a drop in energy, increased moodiness, lowered concentration, increased reactions to stress and a general attitude that life was lousy. Men were also affected but women had more noticeable effects. Unfortunately many drinks we are attracted to such as tea, coffee and soft drinks (because of the sugar and caffeine) can have dehydrating effects on the body. Ensure you are drinking enough water and consider some caffeine free alternatives such as herbal teas to top up your fluid levels.
Part of the Pack
As social creatures we were never meant to be alone or live in isolation. A close relationship with others; partners, family and friends who are supportive, with whom we can spend time and share activities together are also important keys to well-being. Bonding with others is vital; whatever the activity, whether is it sharing and caring over a cup of tea, watching a funny movie with a friend, going for a walk together, being in contact with the neighbours, joining a sports team, generates a feeling of being accepted, valued and connected. Volunteering in the community is also another option to feel connected while giving back to others.
Live in the Now
Worrying and focusing on the past or what is yet to happen robs you of energy for living in the moment and stops you enjoying the now. Recognize the things that you are not able fix and work to release those stresses.
It is time to get off the couch!
Move it or lose it. Our bodies and minds are designed to work best when we physically move. Numerous studies have shown all forms of movement; aerobic, resistance, yoga, and dance have a positive impact on reducing stress and increasing psychological wellbeing no matter what the age. If you have not exercised for a while, consider buddying up with a friend. Start slowly with 15 to 20 minutes of an activity that you would enjoy.
The work and activities you gravitate towards reveal your talents and these may be unique to you. The talent may be something you already do as a hobby, job or interest but most likely it will be what drives you and gives you passion – what makes you feel alive. Many people target their weak points, but it is vital to stop comparing yourself to others and look at your skills and strengths. Sure, understand your weaknesses, but acknowledge that everyone is different and has their own weaknesses and strengths.
Seek help if you need it
If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and still don’t feel good, then it’s time to seek professional help. Input from a knowledgeable, caring professional can often motivate us to do things for ourselves that we’re unable to aspire to on our own.
Remember, we are all a work in progress. No one is perfect. However, some of us are progressively and actively working on ourselves to make things better. Putting in processes or consistently using these lifestyle choices can support us when needed, helping us to create a stronger internal mechanism to be more resilient when the lows of life become a challenge.
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High Strength – The Magic of Magnesium
It is good to know that you now get a great quality extra strength supplement at your local supermarket at reasonable prices.
The Red Seal High Strength range is just a little different from the average supplements in the supermarket, with:
- Easy to swallow capsules
- Most in veggie caps and suitable for vegans
- All high quality
- Higher doses; for when you need it the most
- A reassurance that they are New Zealand made
- Most are one-a-day doses
Deep Sleep – High Strength Deep Sleep
Sleep is the panacea of all ills and usually only becomes a problem when you repeatedly can’t get to sleep or have a restless sleep. Sleep problems affect day to day functionality; your mood, ability to focus, weight and immunity. Supporting the body’s ability to sleep naturally and in a non-habit forming way is important for total peace of mind. Formulated with ingredients that support both relaxation to get to sleep but also help stay asleep throughout the night. Deep Sleep is formulated with two forms of Magnesium, (aiding muscle relaxation and helping ease nervous tension), along with Tart cherry (to support our sleep/wake cycle), Passionflower, 5-HTP and L-tryptophan to relax the body, mind and support a good night’s sleep.
The Magic of Magnesium – High Strength Magnesium Complex
Muscle tension and stiffness, stress, worry, poor quality sleep, and much more.
Magnesium deficiency can be caused by a number of factors, but the main culprit is usually low dietary consumption or eating or drinking those things that deplete us such as sugar, coffee or even poor absorption. Stress and intensive exercise are other common factors that can deplete your body of magnesium. Magnesium is one of the seven major minerals that the body needs in relatively large amounts (Calcium, potassium, sodium, chloride, potassium and phosphorus are the others). Found in green leafy veggies, sometimes we just don’t get enough and our bodies constantly need more due to our busy lifestyle demands.
Magnesium is also most like a magical mineral as the body needs it for so many functions. In fact, it is necessary for every major biochemical process; digestion, protein synthesis, cellular energy production and glucose metabolism. Magnesium is also needed for bone strength, muscle strength and heartbeat, as well as the functioning of the nervous system.
Always read the label and use as directed. If Symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.
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Serenity time with herbal support
Go faster… work to deadlines, fit in extra over-time, play referee with the kids (as they are about to kill each other), keep calm (in the middle of peak hour traffic with crazy drivers either side of you), clean the house (as the in-laws are coming), remember to bring in the washing off the line, cook healthy meals (that everyone in the family likes… if not, sort out two different meals), weed the garden before the triffids reach the front door… juggle, rush, organise, balance – the busy mind repeats lists of jobs and problems… Smile and remember to keep calm, just before you scream!
In our fast paced society, we pack as much into our days as possible trying to balance the demands of our families, work and living, which means prolonged pressure. This can result in becoming worn out, over-stimulated, overloaded, over-tired and wound up.
Balancing these demands with other physical stressors such as eating food with less nutrient value, too much sugar, allergies, toxic chemical overload, stimulants such as caffeine, lack of exercise and lack of sleep can put emesis pressure on our nervous system and bodies. Fatigue, tension, insomnia, depression, irritability and increased time with stress and worrying are the body’s overload signals that we need to take steps to rest and restore.
Undoubtedly, one of the most important ways to create a healthy nervous system, reduce the ill effects of stress, nervous exhaustion and anxiety is to rest, meditate, enjoy time out (listening to music, arts and crafts, reading), sleep and eat well. Dealing with these issues daily will help our body to relax, unwind, heal and repair especially when we sleep. If we can sleep (or if we are lucky – go on a holiday) we can remove ourselves from the daily urgencies for a while.
Nature gives us some herbs when we need extra help:
In nature’s natural toolbox of healing there are herbs that can help soothe, calm and nourish the nervous system. These can be used when needed without fear of addiction or dependency. They are mild and gentle in their activity and generically called “Nervines”. Nervines are commonly used by herbalists when supporting the body from anxiety, over-excitement, tension and sleeplessness. Nervine herbs include; valerian, catnip, passion flower, skullcap, St John’s Wort, lemon balm and chamomile. These herbs are commonly available as a herbal infusion, tablet or capsule supplement, or as tincture.
Executive Stress B* for tension and stress
A combination of nutrient support such as B vitamins, minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and iodine with nervine herbs such as skullcap, passionflower, and valerian is ideal for those who have tension linked with fatigue and exhaustion that may be linked to nutrient deficiency. When we are stressed, vitamins B & C and a number of other nutrients are in high demand by the body.
St John’s Wort with soothing herbs* to support body and mind
A supplement for those who need a lift with nervine herbs that support both body and mind – St John’s Wort, Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) and Ginkgo (Ginkgo billoba). Non-addictive, it can help when you need some emotional or stress support.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)* for insomnia, anxiety and concentration
A popular herb to help with insomnia, anxiety and improving mental concentration. It has a refreshing lemony flavour making it a popular herb in some teas.
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis)* for a good sleep
One of the gentlest herbal sleeping remedies; it enhances the body’s natural process of slipping into sleep and making the stresses of the day recede. For people who do not need as much sleep as they once did, it also eases lying awake in bed, ensuring that it becomes a restful and relaxing experience. This is often as re-vivifying as sleep itself, and indeed all that is necessary in more cases than not.
Valerian has demonstrated decidedly relaxing properties in clinical trials. For example, in three separate sleep tests (two of them double-blind), people who received a valerian preparation fell asleep up to 50% faster and had a sounder, more restful sleep than people in the placebo group.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)* for preventing nightmares
Has a variety of uses, the most important being its soothing, calmative effect. It has been traditionally used as a preventative remedy for nightmares.
Catnip (Cataria vulgaris)* for humans…
Has mild sedative properties and is often used to alleviate nervousness, sleeplessness, and nervous headaches. And yes, it is the same plant that drives cats into fits of ecstasy just by the mere smell of it.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)* for tranquillising
In the best sense of the word ‘tranquillising’. The extract is effective in treating disturbed sleep patterns due to worried and excited nervous states. Additionally, Passionflower is effective in allaying anxiety, irritability and tension.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)* for nervous conditions
Traditionally used as a sleep promoter, skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)* has also been used to assist those with nervous conditions, ADHD, nervous headaches and nervine pain.
These herbs are available as herbal teas that can be enjoyed any time of day, but often make a wonderful night cap as they are caffeine free and help promote rest and relaxation of the body and mind.
Red Seal herbal teas:
Sweet Dreams tea
*Only take supplements and herbs as directed and if you are taking any medication please check with your health advisor.
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Let your love flow
Not sleeping at night? Weight not coming off? Digestion a bit off? Take minerals and vitamins to nourish your body and soul.
Managing your weight and achieving balance is not always as simple as going on a diet and increasing your exercise. Your body may require some additional support before it will respond to traditional solutions. Red Seal has a range ofHigh Strength supplements that have a strong enough dose to really make a difference. The following are some key areas where you can support your diet and exercise plan.
1- Take care of your gut
We’ve all heard the saying, “listen to your gut”. And while that advice often refers to our intuition, it could also be about our digestion. Your gut guides your overall well-being. Quite literally, your gut is the epicenter of your mental and physical health. Yet it’s all too common to experience lots of digestive issues that make a huge impact on our strength and vitality. If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health. Red Seal offers a 50 Billion Probiotic as part of its High Strength range, ideal for when you need to kick start your health programme.
2- Cut down on stress.
In addition to practicing breathing right down into your gut, taking a Vitamin B Complex will support your nervous system, energy levels and mental clarity. Just sit down and relax. No stress, no worries!
3- Show your liver a little love.
Your liver is responsible for how you process substances and it has to detoxify material to ensure your “engine” is running well. Reducing alcohol consumption and adding Red Seal Milk Thistle to your regime is a great way to help tune up the liver by promoting bile flow.
4- Don’t let symptoms go on too long.
If you have tried everything and after a few weeks you are still feeling out of balance, and the weight isn’t moving, consult a health professional.
5- Take it easy on yourself.
The world won’t cave in if you slip up and eat something with sugar in it or if you have an extra glass of wine with dinner. Good nutrition is all about balance. Cut yourself some slack if you do deviate from your resolve to make your diet healthier and get back on track as soon as you can. Tomorrow is another day.
6- Get some sleep
So easy to say and so hard to do. At times sleep can be elusive and lack of sleep puts stress on your body. Red Seal Deep Sleep with Magnesium supports a complete, deep sleep, helps relax and relieve tension and tightness, promotes a calm mind and helps ease worry, tension and stress.
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4 Lifestyle Tips to have a Good Night Rest
There are many reasons why people have trouble falling and staying asleep. Here are tips about getting better rest at night, plus a list of causes for sleeping issues and how to get rid of them.
Don’t nap during the day.
This will throw off your body clock and can make it difficult to sleep at night. If you must, do it for less than 30 minutes and keep it early.
Limit caffeine and alcohol.
Alcohol can interrupt normal sleep patterns, causing you to have only one or two REM sleep cycles instead of six or seven. This can lead you to wake feeling exhausted.
Caffeine is a stimulant and affects your sleep. It is found in common drinks such as tea, coffee, cocoa, chocolate, some soft drinks and certain drugs. It is best to avoid drinks like this before bed. There are some herbal teas that help relax the body and don’t have the stimulating effect of caffeinated drinks.
Nicotine is a stimulant and can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Smokers often have difficulty sleeping due to night-time withdrawal symptoms.
Medication and side-effects.
Many medications can have the side-effect of disrupting sleep patterns, so always check the small print and keep yourself informed.
Expose yourself to bright light/sunlight soon after waking up.
This will help regulate your body’s natural biological clock. Keep your bedroom dark while you’re sleeping.
Exercise early in the day.
Thirty minutes in the morning or afternoon of exercise every day can help you sleep. But be careful of evening exercise, as stimulation of the body during aerobic activity may make falling asleep more difficult.
Eat to enhance sleep.
Some foods are more conducive to a better night’s sleep than others. Warm milk, chamomile tea, turkey, bananas, potatoes and oatmeal are great sleep foods. Avoid food with additives like MSG, colours, aspartame, or food/drinks that cause you digestive problems.
Relax before bed.
Take some time to relax before bed without stimulation from technology. Read a book and drink a cup of herbal tea including ingredients such as chamomile, valerian, lemon balm, passionflower and skullcap. These are classified as nervine herbs and are known to help relax the nervous system. They’re generally considered safe and non-addictive.
CHECK YOUR HEALTH
Maintaining sufficient levels of Vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 help achieve good sleep. B vitamins help regulate the body’s level of tryptophan, an amino acid important for maintaining healthy sleep.
If you are experiencing insomnia, frequent waking with no pattern and waking around 3am, it could be your thyroid. We recommend visiting your doctor.
Stress, depression and anxiety.
These can also seriously affect your sleep. Consider meditation and relaxation before bed. We also recommend discussing these feelings with your doctor.
5 essential remedies to get a better sleep:
1. Take Magnesium to release tension.
2. Reduce Electromagnetic smog, a.k.a phones.
3. Eat foods such as turkey, pumpkin seeds and dairy products.
4. Relax with a hot cup of chamomile before bed.
5. Take iron supplements at night if you have low iron levels.
CREATE A BETTER SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Be careful of allergies.
Some people are allergic to feathers and down, wool, nylon or dust, so make sure that materials used on your bed are right for you.
Make your bedroom a place for sleeping.
Don’t use your bed for paying bills, doing work or watching movies. Help your body recognise that this is a place for rest.
Keep your bedroom peaceful and comfortable.
Ensure your mattress is comfortable and supportive and that your bed is big enough. Make sure your room is well-ventilated and the temperature consistent. Keep it quiet. You could use a fan or a “white noise” machine to help block outside noises.
Hide your clock.
A big, illuminated digital clock may cause you to focus on the time, making you feel stressed and anxious. Place your clock so you can’t see the time when in bed.
DO THESE THINGS WHEN YOU WAKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
Get out of bed if unable to sleep.
Don’t lie in bed awake. Go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Worrying about falling asleep actually keeps many people awake.
Don’t do anything stimulating.
Don’t read anything job related or watch a stimulating TV program. Don’t expose yourself to bright light as this gives cues to your brain that it’s time to wake up. Drink a cup of herbal tea, meditate or listen to soothing music.
If you need to go to the bathroom, don’t switch the light on. Consider a dim night light that can light your way and will automatically switch off.
Get up and eat l-tryptophan.
Foods such as turkey, pumpkin seeds and dairy products.
STILL HAVING PROBLEMS?
If you have made changes and you are still having problems then consider keeping a sleep diary. Include things like – Time you went to bed and woke up, total sleep hours, sleep quality, general mood before bed, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco consumption, exercise, bedroom environment and pre-sleep activities.
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