Magnesium – a crucial mineral for optimum health

One of the most important minerals for our overall health is magnesium. Every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function. Strong bones and teeth, balanced hormones, a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system, well functioning detoxification pathways and much more depend upon cellular magnesium sufficiency.

Unfortunately, however, it has become difficult to reliably supply our bodies with sufficient magnesium and as such deficiency is very common. Depleted soils through modern agricultural methods, food processing, sugar intake, stress and many commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs such as the contraceptive pill all contribute to our diminished intake and increased demand for this crucial mineral.

So what are some of the symptoms associated with magnesium deficiency?

  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramps and spasms
  • Eye twitches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Sugar cravings
  • Cravings for chocolate and caffeine
  • Headaches
  • Migrains
  • Nervous anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Hearth rhythm irregularities
  • Back pain
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Adrenal exhaustion
  • l  Preeclampsia

If you find that you experience any of the above symptoms on a regular basis it may be a sign that you need to up your magnesium intake.

So how do you go about increasing your intake of this vital mineral?

One of the simplest ways to replenish your magnesium stores is to add a pinch of natural unprocessed salt such as Himalayan rock salt or celtic sea salt, to your water. Unlike processed salt, this natural salt is a very good source of magnesium and contains 83 other minerals and trace minerals that your body needs to function optimally.

If the soils are well-mineralized, leafy green vegetables, seeds and nuts  are also fairly good sources of magnesium as are certain weeds such as nettles (great for making tea).

Kelp contains spectacular levels, as do most sea vegetables. You can sprinkle them on your salads and eggs or add them to soups and stews. I personally like to snack on nori sheets which are also a great source of iodine – another mineral which many of us are deficient in. Small squares of nori are also a great for your kids to munch on (my little one loves them!) and will provide them with vital brain boosting nutrients.

Having homemade chicken stock on a regular basis will also provide an excellent source of magnesium (as well as a host of other minerals) in a highly assimilable form. Chicken stock is also a wonderfully nutritious immune boosting food for your kids and can be given from the time they start solids. Add it to purees to increase nutrition and aid digestion. See my recipe for chicken stock under the “cook” section.


Deciphering food labels

Food labels are intended to help you eat healthier but this premise only works if you know what to look for and what to avoid and then make the appropriate choice. Unfortunately many of us focus purely on the nutrition table (which is often inaccurate) and base our choices on which products have fewer calories and fat. As a result we often neglect to see the real dangers lurking in our foods and continue to make poor choices.

So next time you reach for a product on the supermarket shelf or your pantry or refrigerator check the ingredients list rather than just looking at the nutrition table and look out for the following:

  • Sugar, glucose, fructose, dextrose
  • high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup
  • hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat
  • artificial sweeteners such as aspartame
  • artificial colours (in particular 102, 104, 110, 122, 123, 124, 127, 129, 133, 150)
  • preservatives (in particular E211, E220, E828)
  • Nitrate & Nitrite preservatives (E249-252)
  • Artificial flavours (E620-635)
  • MSG (E621) – flavour enhancer
  • Hydrolysed vegetable protein (hidden source of MSG)
  • Yeast extract (yes, this includes Vegemite!) – also a hidden source of MSG
  • 320 BHA (Buylated Hydroxyanisole) – a synthetic antioxidant
  • soy protein or soy protein isolate

A note on artificial colours: did you know that Australia’s favourite biscuit the Tim Tam contains not only 1 but 5 of the above mentioned artificial colours! These colours have been banned in many other countries due to the health effects they have been associated with (hence the fact that they are so exclusive to Australia). So when it comes to biscuits to avoid (particularly for your children) Tim Tams top the list!


In season this month – November

November vegetables in season:

artichokes, asparagus, chinese greens,   cucumber, green beans, spring onions, snow peas, silverbeet, spinach, sugar snaps, zucchini


November fruits in season:

avocados, bananas, blueberries, cherries, grapefruit, mangos, oranges, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, watermelon


Super Foods

Check out the link below to read my contribution to the article “The real super-duper foods” featured on the Madison Magazine website.

Read more here


Eating on Repeat

Check out the link below to read my contribution to the article “Eating on Repeat” featured in the November issue of madison Magazine.

Read more here: Eating on repeat

The Big Breakfast Myth

Check out the link at the bottom of the page to read my contribution to a feature in Madison Magazine by health and beauty editor Katrina Lawrence entitled “The Big Breakfast Myth”

Breakfast is undoubtably the most asked about meal of the day and it’s not surprising considering there is so much conflicting advice as to what and how much you should and shouldn’t eat.

There have been many studies that have shown that people who eat a large breakfast (eg sometimes consuming half their daily calories) find it easier to loose weight and are more likely to keep it off. However, a recent study has refuted this and suggests that people who eat a large breakfast will actually put on weight.

So how is it possible to get such different results with very similar studies? Well, it all comes down to the foods they choose to use. Some foods (such as fat and protein for example) can evoke entirely different physiological responses than others (such as carbohydrates). In other words some foods are more likely to make you gain weight and others foods are more likely to help you loose it.

A study featured in the International Journal of Obesity, for example, foundthat people who consumed eggs rather that bagels for breakfast felt more satisfied and ate fewer calories at the following meal. Also, compared to the subjects who ate a bagel breakfast,men and women who ate eggs lost more weight and reported higher energy levels, this despite the fact that the egg and bagel breakfasts provided exactly the same amount of calories!

So when it comes to breakfast quality rather than quantity is key!

Read the full article here: The Big Breakfast Myth


What to buy when you are on a budget

Organic fruit & veg

Did you know that some fruits and vegetables have far greater levels of pestisides than others? Eating the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables for example can expose you to an average of 14 pesticides per day! Studies have shown that exposure to pesticides can have a serious impact on your health so when it comes to buying fruit and vegetables organic is best.

Unfortunately however, organic produce is not accessible or affordable for everyone so if you are on a budget, focus your organic dollars on where they count most – the fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels.

To help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide residues and are therefore the most important to buy organic the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, has compiled the Dirty Dozen list. This is a list of the 12 fruit and vegetables which have been found to contain the most pesticide residues.

  1. Apple
  2. Celery
  3. strawberries
  4. peaches
  5. spinach
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. capsicum
  9. potatoes
  10. blueberries
  11. lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

So by avoiding the top 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables or by choosing the organically grown varieties  you can lower your pesticide exposure by almost 90%!


In season this month – September

September vegetables in season:

artichoke, asian greens (eg bok choy), asparagus, avocados, green beans, broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower garlic, ginger, leek, lettuce, mushrooms, spring onions, peas, potato, pumpkin, silverbeet, spinach.

September fruits in season:

apples, cumquat, grapefruit, lemon, mandarins, oranges, papaya, pawpaw, pineapple.

Rethinking our phobia of fat

Since the 1950’s, we have been bombarded with the message that fat makes you fat and that saturated fats (such as those found in butter, eggs, coconut oil and red meat) are unhealthy. Yet, despite our dutiful efforts to eliminate saturated fats from our diet for fear of high cholesterol levels and hardened arteries, the rate of obesity, diabetes and heart disease continues to climb.

Over the years, as our phobia of fat has cemented itself firmly in our consciousness, bacon and eggs have given way to the culinary abomination known as the egg white omelet and new fangled faux foods such as ‘I can’t believe its not butter’ and soy milk. But what if tossing out your egg yolks, ditching your butter and milking bean’s rather than cow’s is not such a great idea? What if our phobia of fat is unfounded, unnecessary and even unhealthy?

The experts are right, our diet is killing us but traditional foods such as butter, eggs and beef are not to blame.

Consider the following…

Did you know?

People in northern India consume 17 times more animal fat than people in southern India yet have an incidence of obesity and coronary heart disease that is 7 times lower!

Did you know?

The Masai tribe in Africa subsides almost exclusively on fat and cholesterol rich milk, blood and beef. Yet they are totally free from obesity and heart disease and their cholesterol levels are extremely low!

Did you know?

The Swiss have the second longest lifespan of any nation in the world yet they have one of the fattiest diets in the world. Tied for third in the longevity stakes are Austria and Greece – both with high-fat diets!

Did you know?

France has lower rates of obesity and coronary heart disease than most western countries yet their diet is loaded with saturated fat from butter, eggs, cheese, cream, liver, meats and rich pates!

Did you know?

The secret behind the Sumo wrestlers burgeoning body weight is a low fat high carbohydrate diet!

Did you know?

A study that followed close to 13,000 children found that weight gain was directly associated with drinking reduced-fat milk! The study showed that dairy fat was in fact not associated with weight gain.

Did you know?

The Framingham Study, one of the largest long term studies on heart disease, found that the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower people’s serum cholesterol. The study found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories weighed the least and were the most physically active!

So, for those who think the answer to their weight woes lies in filling their shopping trolley’s with rice cakes, skim milk and margarine – think again!



The must have staple to fill your freezer

Forget filling your valuable freezer space with nutrient poor frozen pizza’s, Tv dinners and ice cream and make way for an equally cheap and convenient but far superior food – chicken stock!

Yes, homemade chicken stock is one of the healthiest nutrient rich foods you can introduce to your diet and is a must have staple for your freezer.

Not only does chicken stock have an abundance of minerals (particularly calcium and magnesium) it is also rich in a number of other important nutrients such as chondroitin and glucosamine (both sold as expensive supplements for joint pain and arthritis) and gelatin which greatly enhances digestion and improves the symptoms associated with digestive disorders. Used in households the world over as a common ‘cure all’ and often referred to as the ‘Jewish Penicillin’, chicken stock is a potent immune booster and a true super food!

Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that the stock you can buy at the supermarket is anything like what you can produce at home. Even the brands that claim to be “real” and “100% natural” contain sugar, high levels of refined salt and hidden sources of MSG. So why compromise your health and taste buds with a second rate store bought product when it is very easy and inexpensive to make it yourself.

Chicken Stock Recipe

  • 3-6 chicken carcasses
  • necks, drumsticks, wings (optional)
  • cold filtered water
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 celery stalks (and tops), coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 tsp pepper corns
  • 2-4 bay leaves

Place chicken carcasses in a large stainless steel pot with water. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Add vinegar or lemon juice and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 12 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. Strain the stock into a large bowl, cool completely and transfer to containers to freeze.

Add it to soups, stews and baby purees or just drink it straight!