As I was thinking of creating a nice long list of local alternatives to these exotic foods we are consuming at such a high rate, I rediscovered two amazing foods that can be accessed and consumed without increasing your carbon footprint. So today I want to tell you about these two rediscoveries and the amazing role of breath in maintaining proper health. The first food is not locally sourced BUT it is produced in ethical and eco-friendly ways, and it is easily accessible. Can you guess what it is?
It's CHOCOLATE! Yes, I am sure most of you are very well aware that chocolate has long been the go-to food to assuage sadness. But, chocolate has many lesser-known attributes that can provide just as many benefits as do imported exotic foods that are cultivated under ethically and environmentally destructive ways.
After a break-up or a simply gloomy day, many turn to chocolate because it stimulates the
release of dopamine. Furthermore, it produces euphoric and confident feelings similar to being in love. Pretty cool, right? A lesser know fact about chocolate is that it revs up, fueling the body with alert and vibrant energy. Rich in phenylethylamine, a powerful neurotransmitter (or neuromodulator--scientist are still debating on this difference), it balances neurohormones and plays a significant role in cognitive and nervous system function. As such, chocolate helps with focus, concentration and nimble thinking! It is even known for burning fat and curbing hunger. Tip: 70% plus is best! Eat it or add Cocoa powder in your smoothies.
The other amazing food I rediscovered is SPROUTS! These little things burst with vitamins A, B-complex, C & K, fiber and minerals such as manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium! Seriously, add this to anything and call it a day! Sprouts are rich in fiber and enzymes, which stimulate gastric juices and improves digestion. And unlike you would imagine, sprouts are rich in protein, which is necessary for the structure and function of all cells that make up our existence. If you are suffering from anemia or a low immune system--or if you want to prevent anemia and strengthen your immune system-- adding sprouts to your diet is a promising way to overcome these deficiencies. Precisely because of the high levels of minerals and vitamin C, sprouts replenish mineral-deficiencies, and that help white blood cells fight off infections/ disease. It's worth noting that broccoli sprouts have been linked to reducing allergic reactions!
How to sprout: What's awesome about sprouts is that you can be sure they are organic, ethically sourced and grown under eco-friendly conditions by growing them yourself! It's super easy: wash 1/3 cup of beans of your choice, rye berries, or brown rice. Soak over night with about 1" water extra to allow room for swelling. Cover. Next morning, discard water. Rinse. Use three 1 qt jars. Place 1/4c of whatever it was you soaked in each mason jar and close opening with a cheese cloth secured in place with a rubber band or screw top canning jar lid band. Put jars on their sides in a warm, dark place. Once a day rinse the sprouts-to-be by pouring lukewarm h2o, swirling around gently to moisten. Dump excess into a pant. In about 4-6 days beans/grains should sprout. Add them to your salad, sandwiches or smoothies! Here you can purchase organic grains for sprouting!
Lastly, this post would not be complete without mentioning BREATH. In case you missed out on the last blog post, I promised to talk about breath as one of the largely underestimated, yet critical way of improving your health--mastering your breathing technique
is as deserving of our attention as incorporating exotic foods into our diet.
Poor posture and strained muscles cause our bodies to tense up. Without realizing, this affects our breathing pattern. Remember, we breathe to exhale CO2, "bad" gases, our body no longer has a use for. As we exhale these out, we clear space to inhale the necessary O2 that our cells require in order to produce energy and perform all of its functions. Think about that for a minute. Oxygen is necessary for the proper function of our cells.
Sadly, however, over stressed systems inhibit the free natural flow of exhaling and inhaling. As a result, the suppressed system tries to make up for the O2 it needs, by breathing rapidly. These quick and shallow breaths, however, do not supply the body with enough oxygen, which inhibits cellular function, increase lactic acid build-up in the muscles and increase nervous tension and fatigue. Breathing deeply and slowly, however, allows for the full release of toxic energy and CO2, welcoming more room for O2 for a healthier, more efficient, and centered YOU!
The Inspiration of Breath by Jean McClelland, a voice and Alexander Technique teacher, is a wonderful article about the power of breath. I had the fortunate opportunity to learn from her, and ever since, I have become much more aware of how I breathe.