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Stevia – the SWEET herb

2015 November 9 by


Looking for a natural sweetener to use as a sugar substitute? Stevia comes from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana. It has a long history of use in South America where it has grown wild for centuries and been used to sweeten drinks, food & in traditional medicine. Stevia extract can be 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. Nature has given us a powerful combination of a zero calorie sweetener with a plant-based origin.

Stevia extract has some unique properties:

  • It is a non-carbohydrate glycoside compound that is calorie free
  • It sweetens without triggering a rise in blood sugar
  • It won’t cause a sugar rush & crash typical of sugar addiction
  • It will increase energy and aid digestion
  • It does not cause tooth decay
  • It has a long shelf life, can tolerate high temperatures (ideal for cooking/baking) and is non-fermentative
  • It passes safety tests for human consumption with flying colours
  • It is ideal for people with blood sugar, blood pressure or weight problems

Stevia has a bright future as it becomes accepted as a natural alternative to sugar and the sweetener of the future. It is making a greater appearance in supermarkets and is being widely used in the food & beverage industry.


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Why it is a good idea to say NO to added sugar

2015 November 2 by


Want to lose weight and improve your health? Cutting your sugar intake is a good place to start. The human body is not designed to consume excessive amounts of sugar. Unfortunately it is so abundant in our everyday diet. Foods that are high in added sugar are often not high in nutrition. They contain a whole lot of calories with no essential nutrients. It adds empty calories to your diet and replaces the more nutritious foods you should be eating. Are you ready to say goodbye to sugar? Here’s why you need to make a commitment to give up the sweet stuff.

  • A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates will cause weight gain and might ultimately lead to obesity. Be warned – sugar can make you FAT!
  • Sugar can become addictive as it causes a large release of dopamine in the brain. The more you eat, the more you will crave. This ‘feel-good’ fix can turn you into a sugar junkie. The sugar fuelled highs and lows will leave you feeling constantly tired and desperate to reach for your next sugar loaded boost to renew poor energy levels. Your sugar rush will become a sugar crash.
  • When you eat a lot of sugar, it can cause resistance to the hormone insulin, which can contribute to Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Your body will still feel hungry even when you are overeating because chronic fructose consumption can cause leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that controls appetite by signalling when you are full. Cravings occur because the body never becomes fully satisfied.
  • Consuming large amounts of sugar in your diet can raise cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Sugar is a big contributor to mood disorders.
  • Sugar can wreak havoc on your skin.
  • Sugar is bad for the teeth and causes cavities & tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on simple sugars, creating acid that destroys enamel.
  • Large amounts of fructose from added sugars get turned into fat in the liver, overloading and damaging the liver. This could lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Your immune system is your defence mechanism for fighting infections. A sugar loaded diet will compromise the ability of your immune system to fight illness.
  • Chronic disease development (Cancer & Alzheimer’s) is also being linked to too much sugar consumption.

Warning bells should be ringing. Sugar can be toxic, addictive and deadly if consumed in excessive amounts.

As a general recommendation, keep your intake of added sugars to a maximum of 25-30 grams for adults per day. This equates to about 6-7 teaspoons of sugar which will be about 100-120 calories.

Learn to read packaging. Look on the nutrition label for “Carbohydrates (of which sugars)”. Anything over. Below 5g is low. Some sugar words to look for are sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, corn syrup, invert sugar. Make sure the product you are buying has the sugar listed low on the list. If it appears at the top, avoid it!

Think before you eat sugar-laden foods and gulp down sugary drinks. Your body has no need for all that added sugar. Give your body nutritious, fresh home-made meals instead.

Too much anxiety takes the fun out of life!

2015 October 26 by

Too much anxiety takes the fun out of life! Here are some sensible tips for stressed out students.

Be prepared. Develop good study habits. Study at least a week or two before the exam, in smaller increments of time and over a few days (instead of pulling an “all-nighter”). Try to simulate exam conditions by working through a practice test, following the same time constraints.

Develop good test-taking skills. Read the directions carefully, answer questions you know first and then return to the more difficult ones. Outline essays before you begin to write.

Maintain a positive attitude. Remember that your self-worth should not be dependent on or defined by a test grade. Creating a system of rewards and reasonable expectations for studying can help to produce effective studying habits. There is no benefit to negative thinking.

Stay focused. Concentrate on the test, not other students during your exams. Try not to talk to other students about the subject material before taking an exam.

Practice relaxation techniques. If you feel stressed during the exam, take deep, slow breaths and consciously relax your muscles, one at a time. This can invigorate your body and will allow you to better focus on the exam.

Stay healthy. Get enough sleep, eat healthfully, exercise and allow for personal time. If you are exhausted—physically or emotionally—it will be more difficult for you to handle stress and anxiety.

(Anxiety and Depression Association of America)


2015 September 7 by



Have you ever heard of Gymnema sylvestre, a woody climbing shrub native to India? The leaves of this plant have a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine.

Today, evidence suggests that gymnema can reduce sugar cravings by inhibiting sweet taste sensation, block sugar absorption during digestion and promote normal blood sugar levels. Gymnemic acids have a sugar blocking property, so it can benefit the 2 metabolic disorders – diabetes & obesity – by balancing blood sugar (blocks absorption of sugar in the intestines and stimulates insulin release from the pancreas) and lessening the amount of sugar that gets stored as fat.

Medical treatment for diabetes is a combination of lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, as well as keeping track of your blood sugar levels, and taking medication or insulin. Gymnema sylvestre is not a substitute for these treatments but it is a natural alternative with potential. This “destroyer of sugar” could potentially be added to your treatment plan if your doctor approves.


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2015 September 1 by

Being overweight can not only hurt your confidence, but it can be the root cause of many health problems including some chronic diseases. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can seem like a never-ending challenge but it is one you have to tackle. You must have a long-term plan to reach and stay at a healthy weight. This plan must include gradual, realistic changes to your lifestyle and eating habits.

If you are wondering what your healthy weight should be, consider the following:Your body mass index (BMI) should be less than 25. A BMI between 18.6 and 24.9 indicates you are at a healthy weight. This is a measure of weight relative to height. BMI is your weight (in kg) divided by your height squared (in cm).Your waist circumference (WC) should be less than 102cm for men and less than 88cm for women.If you are overweight, your aim should be to lose 5-10% of your current weight. A healthy goal is 1-2kg’s per month.

Boost your chances for success by making an achievable weight loss plan that can become a healthy daily routine.

  • Get the advice of a dietician to determine the ideal calorie intake for your body.
  • Control the size of your portions. Take notice of how much you are putting on your plate and skip those second helpings.
  • Plan meals to have the right mix of fresh, nutritious foods – get the right balance of low-glycaemic carbs, fats, high protein & fibre. Don’t forget to drink lots of water.
  • Never skip meals. Have about 6 mini meals a day instead of the usual 3 big meals. Breakfast is the most important, so don’t miss it.
  • Beware of being an emotional eater – emotions can negatively affect what, when and how much you eat. Eat when you are hungry, not in response to an emotional need
  • Increase physical activity. A walk a day will keep the fat away!
  • Make sure you have a support network for advice and to keep you motivated.