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Eat Like a Happy Person

Take a new approach to eating and see your mood soar.

You know those people who are always cheerful? It might not just be their personality that makes them joyful, but what’s on their dinner plate. Certain foods or ways of eating are proven to boost mood. So isn’t it time you started to eat like a happy person? Here are some tricks you could incorporate into your life today.

Stay Out of the Supermarket

While some foods have mood-boosting powers, food coach Sue Montgomery feels it’s not worth adding any of them if your diet isn’t basically healthy to start with. Her top tip to improve things is to eat foods as close to nature as possible and stay away from the mega-stores.

“If you shop at small specialist stores the butcher, baker, greengrocer it’s virtually impossible to eat processed foods,” she says. “And that helps reduce exposure to additives that can negatively influence mood.” Remember, the best diet focuses on fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins like fish and meat, so load up on those.

Breakfast on Some Cereal

In studies at the UK’s University of Cardiff, people eating a 40g bowl of cereal daily experienced better mood and a 10 percent boost in energy in as little as seven days. Why? The mood effect has been linked to the cereal providing a well-needed shot of glucose to the brain first thing.

The drop in fatigue? This is linked partly to the fact that fibre turns into short-chain fatty acids from which we can make energy, but also because it seems to boost the level of healthy bacteria in the body. This then leads to the decline in the population of less friendly bugs called clostridia, which actually create neurotoxic chemicals that can affect our minds.

Watch for Sensitivities

Dietitian Linda Hodge specialises in diagnosing and treating food chemical intolerance (FCI) where people are sensitive to ingredients, both added and natural, in foods. “And it can be linked to mood issues like irritability, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and fatigue,” says Hodge.

There’s no reliable test for FCI and even keeping a food diary may not help as symptoms are often delayed. Therefore the only definite way to spot FCI is to seek help from a dietitian to try and work out exactly what ingredient is causing them.

“One thing to mention though is that mood symptoms rarely come alone with food chemical intolerance,” says Hodge. “Most people will have physical issues like digestive disorders or skin problems alongside the emotional symptoms.” If you have psychological symptoms, but not the physical ones, then it’s unlikely that FCI is your issue. If that’s the case, it’s worth talking to your GP.

Nature’s First Aid

These six household items make up your natural first-aid kit, writes Melissa White.

The things you love about summer those long, sunny days spent outdoors can sometimes lead to such ailments as sunburn, heat rash, and insect bites. Arm yourself with the right first-aid kit and you can prevent and treat summer glitches in no time. This year, think natural and stock your kit with gentle, multi-purpose products. We’ve rounded up six natural cures that will do the trick – and chances are, you already have some of them at home.

Aloe vera gel

Ideal for soothing irritated skin, aloe vera contains active compounds that reduce pain and inflammation and stimulate skin growth and repair. Pick a gel with the highest percentage of pure aloe vera that you can find.

Use it for…
– Sunburn and heat rash. “Apply it liberally to sunburnt skin or make a 50:50 mix of aloe and sorbolene cream with a few drops of lavender oil,” suggests Pat Collins, herbalist and author of A to Z of Ailments.
-Dabbing onto blisters, cuts and scrapes, insect bites and stings.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has a strong antiseptic action it is said to be 12 times more powerful than the hospital disinfectant carbolic acid. It offers remarkable antiviral, healthful and anti-fungal components, which makes it helpful for infections.

Use it for…
– Athlete’s foot. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil to 30g of sorbolene cream or five drops to 20ml of carrier oil (such as almond or olive oil) and apply morning and night.
– Vaginal thrush, which can flare up in humid weather. It’s not advisable to apply tea tree oil neat to this area. “Instead, add five drops of tea tree oil to 30g of sorbolene cream and apply to the affected area several times daily,” says Collin
– Cuts and scrapes. Dab on sparingly to ward off infection.

Manuka honey

All honey has some antibacterial effect, but the active ingredient methylglyoxal (MGO) in manuka honey makes it especially potent. Applied to wounds, it provides a moist, germ-free environment to support healing. Choose a honey with a high Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which rates its antibacterial strength.

Use it for…
– Food poisoning, upset tummy. Taking a spoonful morning and night helps combat bad bacteria in the gut and promotes rehydration after vomiting or diarrhoea.
– Blisters and cuts. “Leave the jar in a warm spot or in a bowl of warm water to soften, then spread a little on a wound dressing and apply, changing the dressing every 12 hours,” says Collins.

What’s Your Body Trying to Tell You?

Decode the telltale signs and learn how you can put an end to niggling issues.

Did you know that a puffy lower lip can pinpoint a sluggish digestive system? And that excessive yawning often means you have low blood sugar? Your body can’t chit-chat, blurt or shriek out its complaints and requests, so instead it tries to grab your attention with subtle hints and clues. However, are you hearing what your body is striving to tell you? Moreover, do you have any idea the things to look for? Here, we reveal the top body signs, their meanings and what to do about them.

White or light pink inside the lower eyelid

Meaning: “Although, Western medical tests may indicate your iron levels are okay, lower eyelid colour indicates a problem absorbing iron, or that you are borderline anaemic,” says Ayurvedic practitioner Raman Das Mahatyagi.

Fix it: “Add carrot, spinach and beetroot to your diet in any form – juiced, grated, steamed for 41 days. Mandarins, soy beans, roasted or cooked chickpeas and almonds are also helpful.” Also, try to include lean red meat in your diet, as it’s an important source of iron.

Dandruff

Meaning: Yeast overgrowth, and/or essential fatty acids, vitamin B6 and/or selenium deficiencies.

Fix it: In her book, You Are What You Eat (Penguin, $25.95), naturopath and nutritionist Dr Gillian McKeith recommends two dessertspoons of flaxseed oil a day; drinking two cups of the anti-fungal herb pau d’arco as a tea (avoid if pregnant) or taking it in capsule form (three, taken twice daily); immediately reducing your intake of sugary foods; eating foods high in enzymes; and washing your hair with chamomile or tea-tree shampoos. “After washing, rinse with one cup cider vinegar and 10 drops of peppermint oil.”

Tinea and other fungal infections

Meaning: Candida or gut flora imbalance.

Fix it: Naturopath, medical herbalist, nutritionist and Elixir author Janella Purcell (Allen & Unwin, $29.95) recommends acidophilus, anti-fungal and immune-boosting herb pau d’arco (avoid if pregnant), and anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting echinacea.

Women with long fingers and hands

Meaning: “She’s often very emotional, unstable and a perfectionist,” says Mahatyagi. “This type of person has sensitive adrenal function and is more prone to tiredness and broken sleep.”

Help it: Eat pine nuts, pistachios, cashews and a high-protein diet with red meat and seafood. Also, drink a cup of warm water with a quarter slice of lime every morning before breakfast.

Excessive yawning and sighing

Meaning: Not enough energy and/or low blood sugar levels.

Fix it: Take a teaspoon of spirulina powder, morning and afternoon, plus 15 drops of ginseng tincture in a tiny amount of water after meals to help regulate your blood sugar levels, says McKeith.

Red, flushed face

Meaning: Too much rising heat in the body.

Fix it: “Reduce ‘heating’ foods, drinks and substances such as alcohol, coffee, red meat, refined wheat and sugar, drugs of any kind, cigarettes and too much stress and work,” says Purcell.