There is much talk about omega-3 fatty acids, but what is all the fuss really about?

Along with omega-6 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are vital for humans to function healthfully. They are known as essential fatty acids, and they contribute largely towards maintaining the structure and function of our bodies cells. They help us absorb vitamins and minerals, promote nerve function, aid in the production of hormones and not only prevent, but treat disease.

omega-3 fatty acidsOur bodies can not naturally produce these essential fatty acids, and unfortunately mainstream Western thinking largely deems all fat to be bad for our health (even though it’s now been proven that there are good fats we need).

If you are among the many who are not consuming enough omega-3s through diet alone, you might want to consider taking a good quality supplement such as OmegaBrite. After an independent study conducted at Ohio State University, OmegaBrite became the first omega-3 clinically shown to reduce stress in a normal population.

Not all omegas are created equal

Omega-6s are found plentifully in grain based oils and lots of enriched processed foods. While we need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, most westerners consume far too much omega-6 and not nearly enough omega-3.

Our diet has massively evolved over the last few centuries, and it’s knocked our nutrient sources and ratios out of whack. Back in ancient times, it was thought that they would consume a 1:1 diet of omega-3s to omega-6s. Nowadays the average person consumes a diet consisting of twenty to thirty times more omega-6 than they do omega-3.

This adaptation has occurred too fast for our bodies to adjust, and is believed to be a huge factor in causing many ailments including inflammation, arthritis, skin disorders and depression. As with all vitamins and minerals, the best way to give ourselves a boost is to eat more foods containing them.

omega-3 fatty acidsFive foods that will naturally boost your omega-3 fatty acids

Mackerel: not only is this oily fish a great source of Omega-3, it’s also rich in vitamin D, protein and selenium. It’s said to help our chances against cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, as well as age-related vision loss and dementia.

Walnuts: these crinkly nuts have always been seen as brain foods, which makes sense, given how much they look alike. As well as their omega-3 benefits, walnuts contain vitamins C and B6 as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folate. They also contain minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.

Chia seeds: these tiny black seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant, a relation to mint, which grows natively in South America. Chia seeds were a staple for the Aztecs and Mayans, and have shot to fame in recent years for their ability to provide sustainable energy. They’re small but mighty, and in addition to omega-3 they contain calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3.

Flaxseed: is high in dietary fibre, but low in carbs and high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Flaxseed helps to make our skin and hair healthy, and can lower cholesterol. Flaxseed are naturally gluten free and rich in antioxidants. They support digestive health, and could assist us with preventing certain types of cancer.

Egg yolks: I could personally talk about the multiple benefits of eating eggs all day long. As long as they come from a quality source, eggs are an incredibly versatile wonder food. Egg yolks are easy to digest and contain vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, along with omega-3.

This fantastically detailed article by functional health guru Dr. Josh Axe details the top 15 foods we should be eating to boost our omega-3 intake.

omega-3 fatty acidsAbout OmegaBrite 

OmegaBrite is an extremely pure 90% Omega-3 Supplement, physician formulated by a Harvard trained psychiatrist to promote cardiac and joint health and an overall positive mood. OmegaBrite’s unique EPA:DHA ratio 7:1 is available in an easy to swallow 500mg gelcap that delivers powerful anti-inflammatory effects and promotes overall better health, as well as improving cognitive clarity.

Produced using Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), each batch of OmegaBrite is third party tested before, during and after production to guarantee quality and purity. Each gelcap is manufactured using nitrogen blanketing to prevent oxidation, resulting in an odour free, no aftertaste capsule.

For more information on pharmaceutical grade omega-3 supplementation, and comprehensive research sources, head over to OmegaBrite.com.

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**Disclaimer: this is a collaborative piece, click here for my full disclosure policy.**

We’re just over halfway through winter and it’s feeling pretty chilly here in Blighty. As we head into the coldest part of the year, I’ve been thinking about ways to sneak vitamins and minerals into my children to ensure they have a head start to stay healthy.

To help fend off the dreaded bugs and to support their immune systems, they’ll be taking their Haliborange supplements every day, as well as eating a varied and nutritious diet. Here are a few extra creative ways I’ll be boosting their immune systems even further.

Why is calcium important and how can we eat more of it?

vitamins and mineralsCalcium is vital for teeth and bone health, especially for growing children whose bodies are achieving peak bone mass. As a family we don’t eat a huge amount of dairy, so I’m always on the hunt for extra ways to get calcium into us all. Did you know that a cup of cooked kale, or a tin of sardines (with bones) contains more calcium than a cup of pasteurised milk? It’s quite fascinating once you start looking into it, check out this article for more info.

Although most of us throw them away, egg shells are an excellent source of calcium. They are mainly calcium carbonate, made up similarly to our bones and teeth. A simple way of preparing the shells is to boil them (to remove bacteria) then roast them in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes, allow to cool and grind to a powder in a blender. When the powder is added to soups and smoothies it’s undetectable. I call that a win!

Why is vitamin D important and how can we eat more of it?

We need vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium, and deficiency in children could lead to bone disorders such as rickets. Unlike many other vitamins and minerals, vitamin D is largely made by our own bodies by converting chemicals it receives from exposure to sunshine. Unfortunately, when you live in a country like the UK, you can’t rely on the sun making an appearance every day, so it’s vital to boost vitamin D where possible. Check out this article for signs of deficiency.     

Red meat, oily fish and eggs are all great sources of vitamin D, as well as certain mushrooms (especially maitake). As long as they’ve been exposed to UV light, these mushrooms are exceptionally high in vitamin D because their skin absorbs it from the light the way human skin does. Even my ridiculously fussy eater Freddy can be persuaded to eat mushrooms that have been sauteed in coconut oil and sea salt from time to time. 

Why is iron important and how can we eat more of it?

vitamins and mineralsIf you don’t have enough iron in your system, your body won’t be able to make enough healthy oxygen carrying red blood cells. This could lead to iron deficiency, also known as anemia, which is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. Thankfully we can avoid it by eating lots of iron rich food. Red meat and liver are high in iron, as is spirulina, a type of algae. Check out this article for the top ten best foods to eat for boosting iron.

Other great iron sources are raisins, pistachio nuts and dark chocolate. The children love making bark in our house, and it never lasts longer than five minutes. Simply melt dark chocolate (I use 85% cocoa solids, the higher the better as it will be lower in sugar), then stir in a handful each of raisins and pistachios, then allow to set in the fridge. It’s absolutely delicious, and also makes a fab gift. 

What are your favourite ways of sneaking vitamins and minerals into your children? Tweet me @mummytries

**Disclaimer: this post has been sponsored by Haliborange. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

Vitamin A: helps support normal vision | Vitamin C: helps support the immune system | Vitamin D: essential for the normal growth and development of bones in children | Vitamin B12: contributes to normal energy release.

Food supplements do not replace a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

I spent most of the week before Christmas totally floored by mum flu! It couldn’t have come at a worse time, as hubby had to work…  

I don’t do low level coughs and colds that last all winter, and I don’t get properly sick very often. When I do though, it completely wipes me out. Not very helpful with three lively home educated children to look after.  

Almost everyone else in my little family had been under the weather for the two weeks before I got sick. Freddy had literally spent days coughing in my face, so it wasn’t a surprise when my head started feeling fuzzy. Having been stone cold sober for weeks I knew it wasn’t drinking related, and went to bed that night fully prepared to wake up feeling rubbish.

Truth be told I wasn’t banking on being hit square in the eye with mum flu, but that’s what happened. Here’s what I did to ensure a super speedy recovery, just in case any of you lovely lot are feeling it now.

Don’t be a martyr, you need bed rest

mum fluTop of the list of things that will get you back on your feet, is proper rest. Now I know that as a busy mum, you don’t want to hear that. Especially not on the run up to Christmas / a birthday / a holiday / busy time at work. BUT, if you don’t get adequate sleep you will prolong your illness. It really is as simple as that. Plus if you have full blown mum flu, chances are you also have a forty degree temperature and horrible fever. You’re probably shivering under a hoodie, blanket and duvet, and your arms and legs more than likely feel broken.

You couldn’t soldier on even if you wanted to. So go to bed, and let anyone and everyone do everything else. The world will not stop turning, I promise. Proper rest is the only thing that will get you back to functioning. I was fortunate that I came down with mum flu on a Saturday evening, so had all day Sunday for hubby to take the parenting reins. After that though, it was business as usual with my three. Which is where all the things listed below came into play. 

Probiotics for your gut

Those who have been following me for a while will know that I am all about the gut health. New followers will learn this pretty quickly (you can read this for more info). Hippocrates said that all disease begins in the gut, and I firmly believe this to be true. I currently drink around one litre of home made water kefir every day, but when I was ill I was drinking at least two litres, and also supplementing with a potent multi-strain probiotic.

I will do everything in my power to avoid antibiotics, and I view probiotics as the ANTI antibiotics. They replenish your gut with healthy flora, rather than wipe out the good along with the bad (which is what antibiotics do). Obviously if I had a severe infection and needed antibiotics, then I would of course take them. In most cases though, mum flu isn’t a serious infection, it is your body’s way of telling you to slow down.               

Turmeric to help with inflammation

mum fluInflammation is the way the body responds to viruses, which is why it can be impossible to move when we have the flu. Also, if the lungs become inflamed it can lead to breathing problems and phlegmy coughs. Turmeric is a natural way of combatting inflammation and I’m a huge fan of the stuff. For details on the ridiculous number of health benefits to be had from it, read this comprehensive post from the fabulous Dr. Josh Axe.

I made a tonic at the beginning of the year by fermenting 500g of organic turmeric with cider vinegar (probiotic, anti-inflammatory) and some cold pressed honey (natural antibiotic). It’s not a nice taste, but my word is it potent. I would highly recommend making your own tonic, so you have it on hand for emergencies.      

Vitamin C to help quash your cold

Vitamin C is vital for body tissues to repair themselves. When it comes to getting the immune system back to fully functioning after being sick, or healing wounds, the more the merrier. My wonderful neighbour sent over an elderberry based tincture for me, which was very kind of her. It tasted disgusting, but as my lovely 8yo Polly said:

“Mummy, all medicine that gets you better tastes horrible.”

She has a very good point, and herbal tinctures never taste nice, but they are amazing when it comes to healing. Elderberry, which are the tiny little black berries which come out late summer after all the buttery elder flowers disappear, are exceptionally high in vitamin c. These trees are plentiful where I live, and next year I plan to pick a load of berries when they are at their best, and freeze them for times like this.

Any other immune boosting supplements you can get your hands on

Two years ago I started making what I call wellness bombs, which are home made organic vitamin capsules. The shell is pure gelatin, and inside is an even mix of turmeric, dried rosehip and dried amla fruit – which are both high in vitamin c. Here’s a little video I did with the kids, to show how easy they are to make.

What are your best natural healing tips? Tweet me @mummytries 

Water Kefir: make your own supply of powerful natural probiotics What is kefir, and why is it so good for me?

Kefir are little live strains of gut-health promoting bacteria and yeast, and are exceptionally good for our bodies. The grains can be fermented in either water or milk, and makes a fermented drink which is one of the most powerful, and cost effective, natural sources of probiotics we have readily available to us. 

Whilst milk kefir is very potent, and could create a die off reaction while your gut bacteria is changing.

Water kefir (also known as tibicos) is much gentler on the gut and easier to introduce as a starting place. It’s still a great source of natural probiotics, and especially if you have issues with digesting dairy products, it could be the better option.

The cost saving is phenomenal

Water kefir grains are hardy, and once established can live forever providing you look after them. I started drinking one litre of water kefir daily about a year ago, and after three months I was able to stop taking probiotics supplements. Once established, a month’s supply of water kefir will cost around £2 in comparison to £30 for good quality supplementation.

When I first embarked on the GAPS Diet back in 2014, gut health was still considered a little bit woo. Nowadays it’s mainstream, and was recently discussed on the BBC program Trust Me I’m A Doctor, where home fermented foods came out winning.

You can buy a large portion of water kefir grains here for just £3.99, including UK postage.

 

Gut Health: 3 Low Cost Ways to Get Probiotics in Your LifeWhen I first embarked on the GAPS Diet in 2014, gut health was still considered a little bit woo. Nowadays it’s becoming mainstream, and was recently discussed on the BBC program Trust Me I’m A Doctor. On the show, home fermented foods came out winning as a method of promoting gut health.

Why you might ask?

Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria (also known as good bacteria or beneficial bacteria). A lack of good bacteria is said to be the root cause of many autoimmune conditions, and when we eat fermented foods we add these good bacteria to our intestinal flora. This increases our gut health, which in turn increases the health of our digestive system and boosts our immune system.

Fermented foods are also easier to digest than regular food, as a lot of the work has already been done for us in the fermentation process.

Whilst taking probiotic supplementation is the most convenient way of promoting gut health, there’s no denying that quality supplements cost a small fortune. Low cost supplements are pointless taking, and yield little value if any to our gut. Home fermented food and drinks are the very best – and most cost effective way – of getting probiotics into our lives. Here are three easy wins for you to get your gut health on track without it breaking the bank!

Kefir

Kefir is a fermented drink, and is one of the most powerful natural sources of probiotics we have readily available. In a nutshell kefir grains are little live strains of good bacteria and yeast, and are exceptionally good for us. Note: they are not an actual grain, as in wheat, but are referred to as grains.

You can ferment kefir in water or milk. Perhaps because of my long standing issues with dairy, I find the milk kefir too potent. It bloats me, whereas I tolerate water kefir just beautifully. I swapped out my probiotic supplements for water kefir about a year ago, and have continued feeling the benefits.

Check out the video below for a full tutorial, and Q&A session on the benefits of water kefir. Click here to buy quality low cost grains.

Sauerkraut

3 Cost Effective Ways to Get Your Gut Health on TrackOnce fermented, cabbage is a fabulous source of probiotics. Although tasty, most commercially made sauerkraut has been pasteurized, which destroys the good bacteria. Home fermented sauerkraut is a delicious and simple way of adding probiotic goodness to your diet. 

Making it for the first time can be a little daunting, but once you get into the swing of fermenting your own foods it won’t take up too much of your time.

Ingredients (to fit into a 500ml jar)
300g cabbage
3 carrots
1.5 tbsp sea salt
Sterilised glass jar

Method
– finely slice (shred) your cabbage and grate your carrots, then put everything into a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt
note: you can leave out the carrot, and bump the cabbage up to 500g if you’d prefer 

– cover with a loosely fitting plate or a tea towel, and leave in a warm place overnight (as you would with home made bread). By morning your veg will have wilted down to about half and the salt will have naturally drawn out a lot of the probiotic juices. It will also kick start the fermentation process

– pack the veg tightly into your sterilised jar, and cover with the juice at the bottom of the bowl. Top up with a little water if needs be, to ensure the veg is completely covered. It is imperative that you don’t leave any space for air to get into the jar. Put the lid on loosely 

– leave to ferment on your kitchen side for 3-5 days, depending on how hot it is. Check daily to ensure that there is still no air getting into the jar, and there is no pressure building up 

– once it’s ready store in the fridge, and serve with savoury dishes 

Yoghurt

3 Cost Effective Ways to Get Your Gut Health on TrackCommercially made yoghurt is widely available, but again it’s never going to be as good for you as home made. I’ve been making my own out of a mixture of goat milk and goat double cream for a few years now, and the whole family adores it.

I’ve never gotten around to posting a tutorial, however my lovely friend Vicki who writes the Free From Fairy has done. 

Check out Vicki’s comprehensive yogurt tutorial here.

For my recipe, substitute the 600ml of double cream for 775ml whole goat milk, and a 125ml goat double cream. The rest of the process stays exactly the same.

Happy fermenting ❤