It is wonderful to have many national and international days to bring focus, awareness and attention to many worthwhile causes, conditions and groups of people.

Here, as we see in the 1st of the month, I wanted to focus on 3 groups that are dear to my heart.

First is the celebration of ‘International Day of Older Persons’.

This is close to my heart as I have a mother who is now 79 and with whom I have a very special and close relationship with.

I have learned a lot through sharing such a close bond with my mum as well as being her main companion and carer, that it has made me aware and thoughtful to her needs, wants, thoughts, feelings, emotions, health (both mentally and physically) plus much more.  I imagine this is not unique just to our relationship but will apply to many others who have responsibilities for elder parents, family members and friends.

What it has taught me most is to have patience and tolerance.

As parent / child relationships progress through time, so do our roles in so much as our roles are reversed: me being the main care giver and being responsible for mums needs (medically) as well as physically (ensuring she is safe both inside and outside of the home).  Although my mum is very much independent both mentally and physically, there are still areas where I need to direct decisions, activities and plans, ensuring she has a good balance in all areas of her life.  Mum can do a lot herself however she likes to do a lot of these things (social or other) with me!  And of course, their is the language barrier which only contributes to more dependence!

This is lovely on the whole as it certainly gives us a lot of quality and fun times together however when you are running a business from home and need to ensure that planning and focus is given to that business, this can be challenging.  There is often a struggle in balance of time divided between home and business as well as simply being there emotionally when mum needs.  This doesn’t always work out in harmony as I am not always able to ‘say no’ however it is understanding the needs, importance and value of my own time with the awareness of giving the same to mum.  Where perhaps the difficulty creeps in is my not having to feel guilty for spending time on myself, in my business, with my friends and simply nurturing my own needs without the feeling of neglect & selfishness plus many other emotions.

So with all this in mind, this day has brought to my attention the love, compassion and respect we must give our elders, especially those close to us however knowing where the boundaries lie and respecting ourselves and valuing our time with the right balance.

 

Secondly October sees the start of National Cholesterol Month.

This is close to my heart too as I have suffered with having a high cholesterol in the past.  I feel this was due to not much focus on my diet and enjoying high fat and high sugar foods, processed foods, fried foods, not being 100% plant based as well as having numerous stressful jobs with huge responsibility and being in a number of stressful relationships which didn’t serve me well.

So the combination of diet, stress and not giving focus to my mental or physical health I believe were the main causes of my increase in cholesterol.  For about 2 years I controlled this with medicine however, from the year 2013, when I created Cafe Virtuoso and had to become more physically active, changing my diet to being vegetarian and thereafter vegan, I now have a normal cholesterol level and have not been on medication for more than 2 years now.  During this time I also spent a lot of time exploring my own mind through meditation, mindfulness practices, journalling as well as investing in expanding my skillset by studying NLP (Neuro Linguistic Practice) resulting in me becoming a practitioner and studying many levels of health and nutrition modules resulting in qualifying as a Nutritionist.

Being mindful of my emotions, the relationships I ‘choose’ to have, my diet and my physical health, I believe this has had the positive impact in my life to lead and have a healthier lifestyle and therefore coming off medication gradually (with medical support) and keeping both my blood pressure and cholesterol at normal and healthy levels.

Being able to do what I love and work in the food and lifestyle sector, promoting Healthy Living, Healthy Body & Healthy Mind has only helped me to better control all these aspects of living a healthy and balanced life.

Fitness:  Moving forward, although I walk a minimum of 10k steps a day (most days), being in the best physical health I have been in over 10 years (previously having suffered with back injury as well as knee & ankle issues), I have decided to focus more on becoming active through Personal Training sessions, where the focus will be on strength exercises as well as cardio and more weight loss focused exercises around aerobic (dance) and aqua (swimming) classes to keep my goals all in line for maximum health.

I believe that when you are in any ‘lifestyle’ focused industry, it is vital to have the right balance in all 3 areas:  mental, physical & emotional hence this being my goal for the coming months!

 

Thirdly we see the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

 

As so many of us ladies know, it is so important for us to have regular check ups whether through self-examination or via our local doctors/nurse.

I’m sure we all know of someone or have been impacted directly with breast cancer, in some form, and I wanted to touch more on the important subject of health and nutrition.

 

Firstly, there are no food or dietary supplements that will act as “magic bullets” to prevent breast cancer or to prevent it reoccurring.

National Cancer Institute guidelines for cancer prevention can be used to decrease the chance of a breast cancer recurrence and these guidelines include increasing intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which is the subject I’d like to touch on, as this is my speciality.

Having now been vegan for nearly 2 years (vegetarian for 6 years prior), and seen dramatic improvement and changes in my own health, my personal opinion is one that we should adopt a plant based regime.  I know some people may find this hard if they are meat eaters, however even by reducing the amount of dairy, meat and fish that is consumed, this has been proven to improve our overall health.

Everyday we are now seeing public and social media post information, facts and tests that have and are being carried out to show the benefits of converting to a 100% plant based diet or by significantly reducing meat, fish & dairy intake, which can still have much benefit to our bodies (as well as our environment and climate however that is a totally different subject all together).  There is a lot of information out there for reasons against consuming meat, fish and diary products because of what they contain, however I will not go into this here now as you can research this and make your own decisions on the findings.  However, when I did my own research, the findings I learnt and investigated in much more detail led me to follow a plant based diet and seeing the true health benefits first hand for myself.  WARNING:  miracles do not happen overnight so making any lifestyle change will take time however it is important to 1) consult with your medical practitioner especially if you have existing medical conditions and are on medication and 2)  track your progress over time to see what has worked when you took certain actions (i.e. changed your diet, eliminated certain foods, took up exercise etc. etc).

Of course, there are a number of other factors that will support the reduction of what our bodies go through and that can indeed reduce our chances of getting breast cancer or indeed any other form of cancer.

This list is for information only and in no way over rides medical and professional information you receive.  This list is purely to give you some areas to focus on in order to adopt an overall holistic lifestyle for better health, both mentally and physically based on my own findings and my own personal journey.

1)  Stress: Stress is part of our bodies normal reaction to a perceived threat which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can drive you to accomplishing things and help you avoid potentially dangerous situations however too much stress can have a big impact on our physical and emotional health, leading some experts to take a look at the possible role of stress in the development of cancer.  Can stress cause cancer? The answer isn’t clear yet however here’s a look at some stress factors for consideration:

  • Continuous activation of the stress response and exposure to the associated hormones could promote the growth and spread of tumours.
  • The immune system can be important for finding and eliminating cancer cells. But chronic stress can make it harder for your immune system to carry out these tasks.
  • Prolonged stress could lead to a state of inflammation that may contribute to cancer risk.
  • Stress can prompt people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, or overeating. All of these can increase your chances of developing cancer.

2)  Toxins: There are a number of external factors that could play a big part in the dis-eases our bodies face.  Some are within our control and a large number are out of our control.

For toxins that we can control, these can be some of the following:

Smoking: we all know by now the negative impact that smoking can have on our bodies and reducing or even stopping this will have huge benefits over the coming months and years.  Remember to consult your medical practitioner when making any changes to your daily routine as you may have to make changes gradually and with the right support.

Chemicals: We can’t always see the chemicals that surround us however I’m sure we all know a little bit about chemicals that are in the products we use, whether they are in our shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, face creams, cosmetics or indeed in our day to day cleaning products that we use.  By changing these to more eco-friendly and natural products, this will not only have a positive benefit to our bodies (skin on the surface as well as our internal organs), this will also have a positive impact to our environment.

Foods: Chemicals can also sit in/on the foods we consume in ways of pesticides hence, where possible, eating organic is a positive step in the right direction.  I created a wonderful guide to help assist in some foods we should try to eat more organic of if not everything.  I know this can be costly however it is by taking baby steps in the right direction that will bring positive changes in our lives.  How we eat, what we eat, how much eat all has an impact on our overall health therefore please start your own journey into looking into what best suits your lifestyle.

Keeping the body hydrated by drinking plenty of water is powerful in itself.  Water has a huge variety of health benefits that we need to take advantage of (minimum of 8 glasses recommended daily).

3) Sugar:  Processed foods that are high in sugar and low in fibre and nutrients have been linked to a higher cancer risk.  In particular, researchers have found that a diet that causes blood glucose levels to spike is associated with an increased risk of several cancers, including stomach, breast and colorectal cancers.  It’s thought that higher levels of blood glucose and insulin are cancer risk factors. Insulin has been shown to stimulate cell division, supporting the growth and spread of cancer cells and making them more difficult to eliminate.

With all this in mind, it is nice that awareness is given to something that is now affecting 1 in 3 women in the world.

What the common factors world wide in the increase of breast cancer are (and amongst other cancers) we may never know however there is so much information out there, so much support and help as well as the awareness to create better health that we are surely heading in the right direction to reducing, if not eradicating such dis-eases.

If you have any comments, advise, your own personal stories to share, please do so 🙂

**Breast Cancer Awareness resources referred to in this blog:  http://www.healthline.com

And last by no means least, we celebrate ‘World Vegetarian Day’ today.

Whether you are a meat eater, fish eat, vegetarian or vegan, what brings us all together is our love for vegetables.  I can pretty much be certain that we all have a few portions of vegetables a day no matter what varieties and how it’s cooked – it is our staple.

World Vegetarian Day was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) and was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978. October 1st is the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. Make a difference this October by informing others about the benefits of vegetarianism. You will be helping to create a better world because vegetarian diet have proven health benefits, save animals’ lives and help to preserve the Earth.

Here are some benefits of following a vegetarian diet, either by becoming vegetarian or vegan or simply including lots of delicious and fresh veggies into your daily regime:

  • Reduce the risk of major killers such as heart disease, stroke and cancer while cutting exposure to food-borne pathogens
  • Provide a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops
  • Save animals from suffering in factory-farm conditions and from the pain and terror of slaughter
  • Conserve vital but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources
  • Preserve irreplaceable ecosystems such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats
  • Decrease greenhouse gases that are accelerating global warming
  • Mitigate the ever-expanding environmental pollution of animal agriculture

**Resources taken from https://worldvegetarianday.navs-online.org**

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About Virtuoso Foods

We pride ourselves on being able to provide a wide variety of information and articles around food and health in our blogs.

As well as this, we provide a number of services that can assist you along your journey, whether this is to find out more about Veganism, what ‘vegan’ means and the nutritional benefits of the foods we enjoy on a plant based diet, working with you to create meal plans as well as offering nutritional coaching, offering hands on cooking workshops 1-2-1 or in groups plus so much more, we are here to support you along this journey.

For more information, please email:  sayhello@virtuosofoods.com or complete our contact form below and we will be in touch.

 

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