Tag Archives: health

BPPV, Blood Pressure, and Salted Peanuts

I’ll start by saying that I’m fine.

However, I did not feel fine during a recent, early morning visit to the emergency department of our local hospital – a huge vote of thanks to the wonderful staff at Maroondah hospital!

I woke at about 5am that morning feeling nauseous and horribly dizzy…in bed.

That’s the BPPV part. BPPV stands for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo:

‘BPPV causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. It is usually triggered by specific changes in your head’s position. This might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed.’

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vertigo/symptoms-causes/syc-20370055#

Almost an hour later, the triage nurse at the hospital took my blood pressure, and it was 180. I’ll get to the peanuts in a moment.

For me, the BPP vertigo happened when I rolled over in bed. The doctor at the hospital made the diagnosis after a slew of other tests came back negative – no heart attack, no stroke, no tumour etc. That diagnosis was confirmed when the phsyiotherapist came down and fixed the problem. Apparently, little crystals get dislodged from their correct position in the inner ear and move around, eventually causing the BPPV. This is the positional exercise she made me do:

I admit I was a little sceptical at first, but the physio did a test that made me feel as if someone had hit me with an anti-gravity machine. I literally had to clutch the sides of the bed I was so dizzy. After the exercise, though, it was all better. Weird but true, and I haven’t had an episode since – knock on wood.

When I asked about the blood pressure, however, the doctor kind of shrugged and said that blood pressure tended to increase with age.

I am getting older, but I’m not sure that diagnosis is 100% accurate. Yes, BP may increase with age, but I’m almost positive that the gradual increase in my blood pressure coincides with…ta dah…salted peanuts. Don’t laugh! Seriously. 😀

When it comes to food, I’ve always preferred savoury/salty over sweet, so when I decided it was time to cut down on all the gum I was chewing [ex-smoker, don’t ask], I opted for salted peanuts instead. It would have been a reasonable decision if I hadn’t started binge eating the damn things. It took my local GP to point out that too much sodium – i.e. salt – could raise your blood pressure.

Long story short, I stopped eating the peanuts and started chewing raw almonds instead. That was over a month ago now, and I do feel better generally. I’m still not sure what sent my blood pressure sky high the day I went to the hospital, but I get the shivers whenever I think about how high it might have been if I’d still been guzzling all that salt.

“But how can you be sure it was the peanuts?” I hear someone ask.

The answer to that is simple: we eat very little processed food, and I always under-salt when I cook. I prefer to add a little salt directly to the plate rather than hide it inside the food. I guess that’s one reason it never occurred to me that I could be ingesting too much salt. I’m still clueless about why I had such an awful episode of BPPV, but I’m almost certain that the higher-than-normal blood pressure was caused by too much salt.

I still miss my salted peanuts, but I don’t trust myself not to binge again so the almonds are here to stay. Not only are they no-salt and little fat, they also contain magnesium, which is also supposed to be good for you. -sigh-

cheers,
Meeks


Apples, straight from the tree…or why every garden should have one

The apple you see on that plate is the apple I just picked from my tree. I picked it, buffed it against my shirt and bit into it. Crisp but not ‘rock hard’, juicy and…so sweet the flavour was like an explosion in my mouth!

The apple in question is a Fuji, and Fuji are one of the sweetest of the commercial apples, but my home-grown beauty was a factor of ten sweeter because I didn’t pick it until it was fully ripe. Commercial apples are picked earlier and stored in a cool room to increase their ‘shelf life’ in the supermarket. Convenience and greater profits for the supermarket, a loss for the consumer.

How much of a loss?

I can only guess at the nutritional loss, but I can tell you that my apples taste amazing. And! The land on which they grew has not been sprayed for the 16 years of my stewardship. That’s how long we’ve lived here in Warrandyte. As the block was originally a horse paddock, it’s probably been herbicide and pesticide free for much longer than that. For me though, the bottom line is flavour.

I stopped buying commercial apricots the year my apricot tree had its first crop. The flavour of that warm, sun-ripened fruit took me back to my childhood when my Dad grew a few fruit trees in the back yard. The one I remember even now is the nectarine tree. It was big enough for an eight year old to climb without getting stuck, and I’d sit in its branches, eating nectarines.

In fact, there have been home-grown fruit trees in my life for all but a few years in my twenties when I was renting. There have been fruit trees in the Offspring’s life too, and I remember the look of wonder on a young nephew’s face when he picked a ripe apricot from my tree and tasted it for the first time. These are the moments that can trigger life-long food choices, and those food choices can influence life-long health.

Many schools in Australia have created veggie patches for the kids to tend and taste, which is great, but what about the home garden? How many kids get to go home after school and pick a sun-ripened apple for a snack instead of something that comes in a packet? And what better reason for a kid to go outside into the fresh air than to forage in the garden?

“Oh, we’re too busy to grow fruit!”

“The garden is too small.”

“I don’t have time to look after fruit trees. Just mowing the damn grass is enough.”

“Don’t you have to spray them to stop the bugs and stuff? I don’t want the kids to eat stuff that’s been sprayed.”

The excuses are legion, but I believe the root excuse, the one that no one acknowledges is that modern parents grew up eating only commercial fruit and vegetables so they literally have no idea what ‘real’ fruit tastes like. As a result, they can’t see the value of growing fruit trees.

To those parents I say – “Just give one fruit tree a try.”

My apple tree is small, and it has three different apples grafted onto it. For a while I thought the alpacas had ‘pruned’ one of the grafted branches to death, but it came back, and this year it is covered with so much fruit I’ve had to hold the branches up with ropes! Sadly I can’t remember what variety this rejuvenated graft belongs to.

Anyway, my point is that I did not take care of my apple tree for a long time, but it survived and when I gave it some protection [from the alpacas], and a bit of compost and mulch, it roared back with a truly bumper crop. Just in time for autumn/winter.

Feijoas are easy to grow too. They’re the small, dark green fruit in front of the apples:

Fuji apples and Feijoas

C’mon, parents. You don’t need a lot of space to grow one, single fruit tree, and the benefits will astound you. More importantly, you will see that same look of wonder on your kids’ faces the first time they taste fruit that actually has a flavour. Find a sunny spot and plant a fruit tree. Your kids will be the beneficiaries.

Okay, end foodie rant. Have a great day everyone.

cheers,
Meeks


Vitamin D – why you want it and how to get it

The first part of this video is a little bit technical, but don’t be put off by all the scientific names. Keep watching and you’ll learn why Vitamin D may be useful against our favourite virus. You’ll also learn about its importance for other conditions, such as osteoporosis. I most definitely did not know that.

The thing I found most interesting was the explanation about why people in different geographic locations may be Vitamin D deficient. Apparently, it’s all due to the season, the angle of the sun as it hits the earth, and a country’s distance from the equator.

The video talks about the USA, but I was interested in Australia, so I went looking for a map of the world showing the equator. Then I copied the area from the equator to roughly the middle of the USA. This was the distance from the equator that gets sufficient Vitamin D in summer and winter.

Next, I placed the copy next to Australia. This is what it looks like:

World map taken from : https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

Zooming in on my home town of Melbourne, we get this:

Close up of Australia from https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

I drew the green line across from the subset map to see if Melbourne does, in fact, fall within the area that receives enough Vitamin D in winter. It does, but only just, and Tasmania seems to miss out entirely.

So yes, we all need Vitamin D, for a variety of health reasons, but no, not all of us can get it from the sun during winter. And if we go from house to car to office and back again, then there’s a good chance we won’t be getting enough Vitamin D, even in summer.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, apart from how to bake bread, it’s that we can’t rely on technology to save us from everything. Sometimes, living an old fashioned, healthy lifestyle really is the best medicine.

cheers
Meeks


Recipe – Toasted Muesli base

Just made a batch of toasted muesli and thought I’d share:

As always, apologies for the poor picture quality. My purpose though, was to show the colour of the muesli when it’s done. Getting it to this degree of doneness took approximately 30 minutes in a low oven [Fan bake 150 C/Fahrenheit 302]. You may also notice that there is no fruit in the muesli. All of the extras are added after the muesli base has finished toasting. Or if you’re like me, you can just eat the base on its own with milk.

Okay, enough of the prologue. Here’s the recipe:

  1. Place 3 cups of rolled oats in a large baking dish.
  2. Add 1 cup of almond meal and mix.
  3. In a small pot, place
    1. 1 tablespoon of good apricot jam and 2 tablespoons of raw sugar [or make it all apricot jam].
    2. 1 tablespoon of good oil [I use peanut coz it’s mild but olive would be good too].
    3. 1/2 teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon*
    4. 1/4 cup water
  4. Bring the wet ingredients to a gentle simmer – just enough to make the mixture easy to pour.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand. It’s a little sticky but the best way to get the flavour all through the oats.
  6. Place the pan of muesli in the middle of a cool oven [Fan bake 150 C/Fahrenheit 302] and bake for about 30 minutes.
  7. VERY IMPORTANT: Stir the muesli every 5 minutes or so to ensure it ‘toasts’ evenly instead of burning on the bottom.
  8. When the muesli is the right colour, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool.
  9. When the muesli is completely cool, place in an air-tight container. Will last in the pantry for about 2 weeks.

Now, a word about quantities and taste: I do not like my muesli sweet, so if you have a sweet tooth, this recipe will need adjustment. I suggest doubling the quantity of sugar/jam and trying it out. If it’s too sweet, you can reduce the sweetness one tablespoon at a time until you get exactly the degree of sweetness you prefer. And that, my friends, is the only reason anyone should make their own toasted muesli!

cheers

Meeks

p.s. Cassia cinnamon* is not the same as the cinnamon found in most supermarkets. It has a stronger, more aromatic scent and flavour, which is why it’s used by bakers. Cassia cinnamon can be found quite easily on the internet and I would strongly recommend buying some, especially if you have a problem with pre-diabetes. Apparently it helps balance blood sugar:

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1002/cassia-cinnamon

 


The healthy purple … eater

purple carrots 3Remember those purple carrots featured in my previous post? The ones that are purple all the way through [like the picture on the left]?

Well, apparently they’re chock full of a compound called anthocyanin [it’s what gives them that deep purple colour].

More importantly, real, no hand-waving type research has shown that anthocyanins are very good for you:

‘In Toowoomba at the University of Southern Queensland, Lindsay Brown researches the medicinal power of natural foods to counteract obesity and reverse its inflammatory effects, or more specifically fruit and vegetables of a certain colour – the colour purple.

Anthocyanin is a natural pigment, one of a range of compounds in plants that keep their systems healthy and potentially ours too.’

Catalyst, Why Am I Still Fat?,

You can watch the entire video here :

http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4327346.htm

[the purple connection starts at 17:13]

The Catalyst program looked specifically at obesity and some of the harmful effects associated with the condition – such as a low grade inflammation that can damage every organ in the body. But obesity is not the only condition linked to inflammation. Arthritis and ulcerative collitis, are also associated with inflammation, and in fact it was an arthritic toe that first led me to look into the anti-inflammatory effects of Morello cherries [also known as tart or sour cherries]. They too are full of anthocyanin.

So purple is good, and it’s not just the health food fanatics touting a new ‘super food’. In the link below, purple is also linked to anti-cancer properties:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082894/

Apart from purple carrots and Morello cherries, Queen Garnet plums also contain significant amounts of anthocyanin, but I strongly recommend NOT going crazy with the Queen Garnet plum juice. As with any processed and concentrated food, more is not always better. The juice will not have the fibre in the skin, for examply, but it will probably have a higher sugar content simply from being more concentrated. So beware.

My personal view is that the best way of taking in the good things in all these foods is via a healthy diet. We love carrots in our family so eating purple carrots instead of orange carrots is no biggie. I also love Morello cherries so eating them is also easy, but again, they are just part of a healthy diet. All things in moderation, right?

In my next blog post I’ll write up the recipe for the carrot cake featured in the original purple post.

Until then, have a great weekend. 🙂

Meeks

 

 


Split Pea Tubes – shame on me :(

Okay, I admit it, I love salt. And fat. But normally I can control myself. Not so with these new Split Pea Tubes:

split pea tubes 1

I found them on the supermarket shelf about two weeks ago and thought I’d give them a try – after all, split peas are good for you, right? These are the ingredients shown on the back of the pack:

split pea tubes 3

And this is what a single serve looks like:

split pea tubes 2

That’s also how much I ate…just on the way home from the supermarket. The rest of the pack disappeared by the end of the second day. This many kilojoules in just two days, while I was trying to diet.:

split pea tubes 4

Since then I haven’t dared buy the Split Pea Tubes again because, honestly, they’re the most delicious things I’ve eaten since the corn chip was first introduced to Australian consumers. The reason I’m publishing this blog post is that I hope it will provide the element of shame I’ll need when will-power wears thin.

My advice? Try one packet and then never buy them again. Seriously delicious. 😦

Meeks


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