Organic Produce, a health investment?

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“Farm to Fork” sounds like one of those well-crafted marketing catch phrases, a buzz word that I have seen and heard quite a bit in the last few years. F2F is basically the concept of understanding where your food comes from and the journey it has taken to reach your table.

Some proponents laud this trend as a sustainable farming practice, others as a support system for small holder farmers while others like myself, are interested in the concept as a means to reduce the amount of harmful substances I ingest in the name of wholesome eating.

There is a lack of foolproof data/research on the effect nitrates and pesticides is having on the African population as it chases the Green Revolution dream. However, one thing is sure, when the amount of rejected export bound fresh produce increases due to high residues or use of banned substances (i.e. pesticides banned in Europe but still sold by multinationals to Africa), then you indeed need to know where your food is coming from. Hence my journey into eating Organic or to be fully truthful trying to ensure I buy organic farm produce.

With the juicing craze, I cringe as I think of all the innocent mortals juicing themselves away with a cocktail of pesticides as they think they pursuing healthy living. Stay woke my brethren, before you juice those shiny vegetables, think twice, better yet, at least buy organic greens for your juicing  or even grow then in your balcony.

Going organic in Kenya has not been a straight forward journey. I remember the days when the only organic source was a farmers market event at Karen. Back then, this meant thinking of the price to get to Karen and also buy the somewhat more expensive produce. Balancing a budget and trying to organic was a fete. But over the years, it is great to see the strides made in getting organic produce to our homes. Our supermarkets now stock organic produce, look out for the organic labeled produce in Carrefour, individual farmers like Sylvia’s Basket, Mlango Farm are great avenues to not only source produce but they also arrange tours/visits of farms where you can see the farming practice live and get your feet/hands dirty. Then we have the online warriors, the aggregators like Greenspoon who can organize a shipment to your home “from farm to phone to fork” the beauty of technology. Last but not least the organics farmers market hosted in various locations. Living in Kenya? You can now easily access Organic produce.

Price is frequently mentioned as an access barrier, but this is slowly becoming an non-issue with cost friendly organic sellers. Overall, it is an investment in your health that will save your costs in the long run. A few tricks for those going organic:

  • Know your dirty foods and focus on buying organic produce for these items. A quick internet search can help you identify dirty foods. In addition, localize your knowledge, know which produce in your country of origin is produced in suspect conditions. For example, have you heard of healthy looking greens “Kale and spinach” grown in sewage?
  • Take advantage of offers and opportunity. I usually buy in bulk and freeze. This ensures I have a steady supply of organics and can get a good price.
  • Visit farmers markets, you are cutting out the middle man, and can get some good bargains.

I guess the next and indded valid question, is how do you know that the produce you buy is truly organic? Post for another day. Until then, invest in your health “try organic”

Dental Hygiene: Have you tried a Water flosser

Today let’s talk dental health, have you heard of the Water Flosser? I accidentally came across the water flosser from someone I randomly follow on Twitter. His simple tweet “This water flosser is game changer #goals” got me very intrigued. I guess you can say I was influenced by social media….

Intrigued by all things health, I quickly googled the gadget. What I saw was enough for me to take the bait, it was advertised as a gadget that will blast the plaque and food debris between the tiny crevices of your teeth and mouth. I must confess my research was short, I restate that my research was mediocre, I clicked the first article I saw, read it and decided this would be an interesting dental investment.

Off to Amazon I went, I was stunned to see a vast collection of water flossers ranging from USD 30 to USD 150. Given this was a social inspired experiment, I knew ain’t nobody trying to spend a fortune here. I settled on a Zerhunt portable oral irrigator that had decent reviews and cost about USD 35.

Zerhunt Water Flosser (Oral Irrigator)

https://www.amazon.com/NEWEST-Zerhunt-Cordless-Flosser-Cleaner/dp/B079ZZMTS7/ref=sr_1_10?crid=33RG4FZ5XCP25&dchild=1&keywords=water+flosser&qid=1607494531&sprefix=water+flose%2Caps%2C418&sr=8-10

This flosser is cordless (very important) with a rechargeable lithium battery (I can attest to the longevity of the battery, charging even 2/3 months). It has five interchangeable heads and is used in three modes one (normal, soft and pulsing ). At the beginning I must say I was really into this gadget, however, over time it seems to be a relic in my bathroom that is used every now and then. Not a testament to its usability but one of my laziness (I am spending enough time in the bathroom trying to get glowing skin using the Korean skin regime, story for another day).

The above said, I can still give a good general review of its use and practicability. I do use the “will I replace it test” to gauge how useful something is it a want or a need in my life (the test is basically a what if scenario, if the item, thing, person etc is no longer present in your day to day life will you miss a beat). My conclusion, I will occasionally remember the good all times but not go running to a shop or online to buy another one.
My rating of this health hygiene addition (water flossers in general not the brand) is 6 out of 10.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Effective in removing forming plaque, I was able to reach areas of my mouth that would be hard to cover using my brush or dental floss string
  • Do not quote me, but I did find that when I experienced sensitivity as the water pulsed over certain cervices, it was time to visit the dentist and truly indeed it proved to be a timely visit to combat any forming cavities early on.

Cons

  • More expensive than your traditional flosser
  • It does not replace need for traditional flosser to get the stubborn pieces stuck between your teeth
  • Can by a no no for people with sensitive gums (In the beginning, I found using the normal mode to be too abrasive for my gums and it did cause some bleeding, I shifted to pulse mode to resolve this issue).

Have you tries a water flosser? Let me know!

Can you lose weight on the Daniel Fast?

After a very indulgent October (courtesy of my birthday), I decided to go on a Daniel Fast. The Daniel Fast is said to be a 21 day period where one refrains from any animal, caffeine or processed products whilst also taking the time for spiritual reflection. Is it a diet?

I saw the Daniel Fast as a good introduction into the Plant Based diet philosophy which is championed by the likes of Dr Greger. The Forks not Knives program on Netflix did indeed leave an imprint and I also joined a Facebook group of a similar name. I was intrigued by success stories of individuals reversing diabetes, blood pressure among other ailments.

To ensure compliance, I focused on key food for each meal (repetitive but easier to manage). My breakfast options consisted of (oats, millet/sorghum porridge, sweet potatoes/arrow roots or corn). My lunch/dinner options consisted of (potatoes (irish or sweet baked or mashed), beans and legumes (all kinds under the sun), quinoa, Ugali, vegetables, salads) and lastly my snacks consisted of (fruits and nuts) with water or strong cocoa drink.

I started the journey at around 69 kg, a figure that I was keen to reduce having added some pounds during this covid quarantine lifestyle. The first week was difficult and I had massive cravings which I managed to calm down by eating nuts and biting on fruits and berries. Ironically, it was not meat I missed the most but SUGAR!!

I am a sugar/sweet/chocolate addict and I practically had to hide all my sweet tooth temptations for the 21 days. Frankly, I am not sure how I managed the full 21 days but alas I made it to the end and was so proud of myself.

During this period, I also discovered a local organic food seller “Sylvia’s Basket”, and looked forward to grocery shopping every Tuesday when I received my delivery of fresh vegetables. Watching youtube vegans like Rachel Ama was a treat and an entry to a new culinary world I had all but ignored.

I also used the 3 week period to reconnect with the Word and went through the Bible book of Daniel and part of Mathew. I must say, I did not know how much future/revelation wisdom was within the book of Daniel. Sometimes hard to interpret the underlying meaning but very revealing.

Overall, this was a good experience (one I will repeat again), and here is what I learned/benefited from:

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1. Lower spending: Cutting out all the meat/processed items result in budget savings, I did not document exactly how much I spent, but I definitely shopped less and was very focused when I shopped.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

2. Marginally reduced my diastolic blood pressure: My diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) has been stubbornly edging up. During this period I noted the figure was marginally reduced.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

3. I lost 3kg: Yes I did, I was doubting that I would lose much weight due to insane nut snacking but alas, some weight came off! Might I add, with Zero exercise apart for a rare walk at the local Arboretum Park.

4. I am in control, I can conquer my sugar cravings: Ladies and gents, mind over matter, anything is possible with dedication and effort

Lastly, the 21 day rule: I am not sure why the fast was for 21 days (of course Daniel Fasted for 21 days) but I believe there is some mystical reason as to why 21 days The 21 day rule claims you can change a habit in this period. I am beginning to believe this, whilst 100% about turn may take longer but indeed 21 days of the Daniel Fast has taught me that I can indeed survive without meat and processed junk and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Conclusion: I am now embracing a moderate lifestyle of eating more whole foods with indulgences here and there on specific occasions. Not entirely plant based but a good start.

Who knows, I may soon transition to fully plant based, but hey…. Baby steps.

Gut cleaning enema experiences?

Sometime last year after experiencing long lasting bouts of constipation, I decided to try out an home enema. This is definitely one of the stranger health bandwagons I have jumped on……

The Kit: After googling various options, I settled for a non toxic silicon based enema kit from Aussie Health. This was a quick, affordable, discreet 🙂 bought from amazon. They do have a stainless steel bucket option which is more user and cleaning friendly. However, since this was an experiment, I did not want to fork out the $$$.

The Non-Toxic Silicone Enema Kit by Aussie Health

I will not preach about the general science & fiction about enemas, but focus on what my experience has been. Since I bought my unit, I have done two enemas, in no timed manner, just on impulse when I feel clogged and the need to clean.

Below are my key takeaways from the experiences:

  1. Comfort: Set the scene! Make sure you have everything you need and a comfortable layout to relax and lie down as you do the procedure. At a point you will have to battle the urge to immediately expel the liquid, so it helps if you add some music or pod-cast etc that will help take your mind away from the ongoing cleaning.
  2. Cramping: As the enema progressed and got to work, I experienced some abdominal cramping nothing too crazy but it can add some nerves to the already nerve wracking experience (especially if you have read about colon perforation risks)
  3. Lightness/Relieve: After the full evacuation of the enema fluid, I must say the relief was epic. That said, it is really similar to the relief you experience after helping yourself after a long bus or car ride. No glowing skin or clearing rashes as other seem to confess/experience or imagine days after this procedure.
  4. Soreness: I experienced some slight soreness or weird feeling down under but this only lasted a day or two.

Verdict: Will I be doing this again? Probably, but only when am severely constipated versus a religious routine. I would rather stick to my prune juice which works well to restart the colon pipes.

The challenges in this dairy free lifestyle

At the supermarket till waiting to be served, the lady behind me comments to her friend, “Is everyone in Nairobi now supposedly lactose intolerant?”. Her comments no doubt ignited by the array of nut based milks in my trolley.

For the record, my dairy free lifestyle was not sparked by a lactose intolerance diagnosis. It was a personal choice dictated by the increasing uncertainty surrounding the milk value chain in Kenya. A newspaper article warned that local and international dairy industry stakeholders had raised alarm over the high aflatoxin and antibiotics residues.

After trying various options, Soya, Oat Milk, Rice Milk, Almond Milk etc, I have settled on Hazelnut and Almond Milk. Soya initially held a spot in my pantry but there seems to be a back and forth controversy surrounding soy that has left me on the fence.

My top challenges going dairy free are:

Cravings: I must say, adapting to a dairy free lifestyle has been much easier than I imagined. The only true craving that persists and haunts me is “Ice-cream”. I have tried almond milk ice cream and sorbets but it is not the same. I am talking of driving miles just to get a soft serve or gelato cone type of craving. Occasionally the intense craving for rich full bodied creamy Ice cream still gets me, after all, I am only human.

Cost: This factor has hit hard the most. The average price of nut based milk in Nairobi is Kshs 400-500 (USD 4-5) per 500ml tetra pack. Using it for tea, smoothies and cooking translates to a monthly budget of over Kshs 6,000 (USD 60) per person per month. My friend likes to joke that the dairy free craze can only be realistically sustained by single people, as translating this to a household budget is expensively obnoxious. One can actually make their own nut based milks at home, however, am yet to jump on that bandwagon.

Food choices: Going dairy free necessitates conscious food selection. Picking meals at restaurants and reading food labels becomes a task. Explaining your choice to your life circle is another task. The journey is worth it but not without its hassles.

Calcium and other supplements: No specific deficiency elements has crept up on me, however, reading the numerous medical and non medical articles on the dairy free lifestyle can lead one to total confusion. Resolution, have a annual check and test to evaluate any nutrient deficiencies that can be restored with diet changes or supplements. And of course this means more $$$ that is not covered by insurance.

All in all challenges are present but non unbearable, all worth the effort towards a healthy body!!!

Have you gone dairy free? As usual, would love to hear from you ….

Is your blood pressure in check?

It is aptly titled the silent killer, creeping up and snuffing the health and sometimes life out of the unsuspecting man/woman. High blood pressure “BP” (Hypertension), as I have come to learn is a deadly but sometimes incognito ailment.

My hypertension was discovered very randomly. Ironically, when I would visit a general hospital for simple ailments, my blood pressure would be elevated, however, as my physic did not match the bio of a supposed hypertension candidate, it was brushed off as “White coat hypertension”. White coat hypertension is the spiking of BP due to the anxiety of seeing a doctor and visiting a hospital. A year down the line one physician I visited during a totally different check inquired further on my BP and asked me to buy a BP machine and track it at home for a month to confirm my status.

I bought myself an Omron machine and kept a daily log of my BP stats.

I used and have been using an app called “My heart”, it can be downloaded for free from Google Play.

A month down the line, alas, it was confirmed I had hypertension. I was put on medication, “5mg of Amlo Denk” and a journey to manage my BP began. In conjunction with my doctor, I mapped a plan to manage my condition.
Diet, exercise and zen was/is my new mission

Diet: There has been alot of attention on plant based diets, my new meal plan has not fully adopted the plant based diet, however, I have cut out milk, red meat. I do alot of grains and lentils as well as fish. I eat chicken from time to time but the high level of antibiotics in the chicken supply put me off Chicken. I also fully cut out salt and replaced it with spices and black pepper.

Exercise: Exercise is now a way of life, a minimum of three times a week is as important as my medication. Whilst running is a favorite, (seriously, i have traveled miles just to endure the torture of marathons), it is not gentle on my knees. As an alternative, I do a spin class now and then and swim.

A recent addition to my exercise regime, is cross-fit ( on a very moderate routine, though moderate does not seem to be in the vocabulary of most of my gyms cross fit trainers). That said, I was advised against exerting myself as supposedly cross-fitters may face risks due to intense spikes of the heart rate. I am currently tracking my BP for a month while I cross-fit. I will do a blog on the impact of a cross-fit routine on my BP levels.

Zen: Zen is being self aware of your stress triggers and employing tactics to manage it. Time out, yoga, me days and finding quiet solo activities that spark joy and bring serenity into my life have been key.

A year down the line, my medication has been adjusted downwards and whilst my BP is not perfect it is slowly edging to green.

“My Heart – One year results. Green = Optimal, Yellow = Normal, Dirt Yellow = High Correct, Beyond the dotted line = Hypertension Zone

Is your BP in check? Are you on a journey to manage it? What is working for you? Let me know!!!

The Hopeful, White Collar Crime & The Ultra-charming, my best reads of Jan 2019

January is gone, finally!! In it’s honor, here is a brief review of the amazing reads/audio books that brightened this dreary month.

Book 1: A Man of Good Hope – This was a Xmas gift from a dear friend and I must confess, I initially had doubts. “Do not judge a book by it’s cover has never been so literal!! Ps: The new edition has a very different cover (food for thought)

The book is a brilliantly written memoir that lets you walk in the shoes of an immigrant fleeing a war ridden country to a new life. It is an emotional roller coaster with scenes that leave you speechless but also sheds light on the power of courage and hope. I think this book deserves more attention that it has gotten and I am in awe as to what a family name can do for you miles away for home 🙂

Book 2: Bad Blood – Okay, so this was an audio book recommendation by my boss. I work in the field of finance and my sister is a pharmacists, so this was an interesting blend of the two worlds in my life. I would listen to this while I cracked on some financial modeling.

This is truly a soap opera tale about the rise and fall of a medical tech startup. Disbelieve is the word that best captures my thoughts on this one. As a finance and investment professional it is a reminder to dig deep and not get sold on the fanfare and hype.

Book 3; The Rosie Project – Another audio book that was on Warren Buffet’s best reads list. I particularly selected this as it was an interesting non finance related book recommendation by the mogul. I must say, I was not disappointed.

I am at a loss of words to describe this one, it is like Sheldon of Big Bang Theory in a book, utterly hilarious, logical yet illogical. Bottom line, just get the audio book.

Hope you now have some inspiration for your next read.

What are your reading? I would love to get your recommendations.

What is your choice, Oats or Weetabix?

Am starting 2019 with a bang health wise, from the start of the year hearty breakfasts have been my mission. As we bid January goodbye, it is time to reflect on my breakfast choices. In a busy world, my breakfast mission has been healthy but fast to make. My quick and easy choices have been Weetabix and Oats

A month down the line, I can knowledgeably comment on the two choices, of course this is purely colored by experience and preference.

Weetabix:

  • Quick to make, gets me out of the door much faster
  • Higher fibre content, my bowel movements can attest to this
  • Tastier, a caveat being there is some sugar embedded in the product, which may be an issue for diabetics
  • A higher Glycemic index, which means its raises the sugars (blood sugar for diabetics) and for non diabetics you tend to feel hungry much sooner
  • Not for you if you have gluten problems

Oats:

  • Very filling and this keeps me fueled till around Eleven/Noon (Caveat am a 6 meals a day person, small portions but eat frequently because of hunger pangs)
  • Lower Glycemic index than Weetabix
  • Can be rather bland, but that said, it is versatile and blends with many add on options. I load mine with berries, nuts and honey
  • More time consuming to prepare. There is an option to make overnight oats. I prefer hot oats hence the whole preparation factor in the morning can be Ughhrrr, plus I try to avoid microwave oats

Overall, health wise, my inclination is towards Oats, but life happens and I find myself still picking up some Weetabix. I did try Oatibix, but for sure 100%, that life is not for me……

Conclusion, February will be an Oat filled month , though I do need to add my breakfast protein content. A story for another post.

What is on your healthy breakfast plate? I would love to hear from you…..

Jigsaw Puzzle your way to a fit mind

I was born into a jigsaw puzzle loving family. My childhood memories include vivid flashbacks of school holidays spent tackling difficult puzzles. If memory serves me right the most iconic puzzle we did (my mum, the sisters and I, my brother was more content with climbing trees) was a 10,000 piece puzzle featuring wild horses on some mountain. That puzzle was both infuriating and exhilarating, nothing tops the satisfaction of filling in your last piece.

Over the last few months, I have gone back to my roots, completing eight puzzles over a three months time span. Number Nine an is now loading, my sisters Christmas gift that I have borrowed.

Work is in progress, as usual get the boundary over and done with first.

Whilst puzzling can be seen as a hobby or a fun activity to pass time, it is know to have key benefits for the mental wellness and agility.

Benefits for Kids:

If you have ever had to baby sit three kids under the age of 7, you will know this is not an easy task. Over the last school holiday, I introduced my sister’s kids to jigsaw puzzles.

The result, amazing! I have found a perfect activity to keep them busy and quiet for about 30 to 40 minutes. Jokes, aside, it was beautiful to see them slowly understand the concept “shapes, colors and fitting”. It was fascinating to see how each child figures the puzzles out. Did I mention two of the kids are fraternal twins, however, one seemed to latch very quickly to the color technique (find the right piece based on the color) while he other seemed to gravitate more on the shapes, (getting the concept of the boundary pieces and identifying the three versus two heads/holes pieces much faster).

And just as I did in my childhood, completing the last piece was such a privilege that the kids would hold on to the last pieces and a fight always ensued over whose turn it is to have the honor of placing the last iconic piece in place.

All in all, this activity was of great benefit to all, more specifically:

  • A cost friendly activity to keep children engaged;
  • A learning experience that improves eye and hand coordination;
  • A mental exercise that improves cognitive and problem solving skills;
  • An off the screen way to pass time in this digital world.

Benefits for Adults:

I will focus on the benefits I personally relate to:

  • A great off the screen way to pass time in this digital world;
  • A calming, stress relieving activity that brings me into a focused but Zen state;
  • A mental activity that keeps my mind sharp as I age;
  • A happy state of mind, when you complete your first puzzle and every next one, you will understand this feeling.

I hope have inspired someone to take on a puzzle challenge this year. So what are you waiting for? Let’s puzzle away….

Where I get my puzzles (I am currently based in Nairobi – Kenya, so these are location centric).

  • Toy World @ ABC Place or Yaya Centre
  • Amazon.com and ship them in using Mall for Africa
  • Any Toy shop when I travel abroad
  • Second hand puzzles (Toi market, Adams Arcade)

The Journey Begins


A fit, healthy body—that is the best fashion statement” — Jess C Scott

This statement truly resonates with me and getting one “A fit and healthy body” is my new mission.

This blog is journal of the step by step journey I and those around me will take to complete this ultimate mission.

I hope to achieve balanced health that captures physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing.

Join me in spirit, reading and action as we forge ahead step by step!!

Thanks for joining me!