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Acorn Health Blog

What we love is great health...

...and we like to write about how we can all achieve better health, naturally. Sometimes tips on how you can DIY to better health and sometimes on the therapies that can make a difference to you, your health and wellbeing.
Thank you for reading, We hope you enjoy :)

Indian Head Massage

General Health & Wellbeing, Therapies Posted on Thu, June 23, 2022 12:09PM

Indian Head Massage has been practiced in India for hundreds of years where these skills and all the benefits are passed down through the generations.  It arrived in the UK in the 1970s when Dr Narendra Metha – who had been studying here and really missed his homeland’s stress-busting therapy – developed the original techniques from India and introduced it as a highly beneficial therapy.  Now you can find it in lots of places, including at your hairdressers where you can get a basic Indian Head Massage while having your hair washed and conditioned!

For the majority of us, modern living presents us with a lifestyle where little physical labour is required and we may spend much of our days indoors, without natural light, or even fresh air, and few ways of working our muscles.  Apart from mental and emotional pressures, our physical environment also contributes to us having tense, achey muscles, fatigue, tension headaches and many other symptoms of stress.

Massage of all types helps us counteract this, and head massage is very effective.  Why?

  • A head massage can benefit the whole body because stimulation of the head results in stimulation of the brain, and this is where our Central Nervous System is found that reaches every part of our bodies.  When stimulated in the right way, it will help ease muscle aches, take away tension headaches and even counteract insomnia.
  • Indian head massage not only focuses on the face and scalp, but also the neck, shoulders, upper back .. and at Acorn we also include arms and hands too.  So it’s a wonderful upper body treatment.  These areas often hold a lot of tension that has accumulated from poor posture and repetitive movements (like being at your keyboard everyday!)  The massage helps relax taut muscles, ease stiffness, stimulate blood flow and drain away excess toxdins, so helping to relieve headaches, eye strain and improve join mobility.
  • Regular massage sessions can also help improve condition of skin and hair.  It stimulates blood and lymph circulation to ensure that living cells are well oxygenated and provided with fresh nutrients.   Increased blood flow to the brain can, of course, also help improve concentration and improve memory retention.
  • Indian Head Massage is a truly pleasurable experience; it helps release the body’s natural feel-good hormones, endorphins, that contribute to your feelings of contentment and happiness.
  • Part of Indian Head Massage includes the stimulation of certain acupressure points on the case and scalp that help to release blockages in energy pathways of the body.  You can gently massage these points yourself and will often notice that some are more tender than others, indicating an energy imbalance/disruption on that particular therapy.  At Acorn, your therapist Eileen will give you a handout sheet that shows you where these are, to take away with you after your treatment.

After your massage, it’s a good idea to rest and relax and avoid strenuous activity for atleast 12 hours.  You should drive plenty of water to speed up the elimination of toxins from your body .. better out than in !  Also, cutting back on caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee or cola will help too.  Your body will be detoxing .. so cut back on alcohol too!  And avoid a heavy meal straight after.  These are all sound aftercare tips that will help you get the most from your massage.

Remember, your body will be detoxing so be gentle with yourself and help support it’s healing processes!    Take care if you’re driving home afterward too .. deep relaxation may cause your reactions to slow down temporarily.

A regular Indian Head Massage can become an important and enjoyable part of your health and wellness regime!!

Taster sessions of 20 mins are available here at Acorn on 23 July at our BloodBikes fundraising event.  

Otherwise, our Indian Head Massage therapist Eileen is at Acorn every Friday from 1130 a.m. to 7.30 pm and you can book online.



Spotlight on: Beetroot

General Health & Wellbeing Posted on Tue, September 28, 2021 01:50PM

So you think you know beetroot – the humble root vegetable, so often found in pantries in its pickled form since World War II.

But truly, it is so much more. In fact, it is a nutritional powerhouse now widely regarded as a superfood!

Humble beginnings

The beetroot is no stranger to the average household. Also known as “table beet”, it is one of the many cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris and the most common variety found in Britain, North America and Central America today. In the earliest days of its consumption, the leaves were most commonly eaten by people living in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Romans then began to make use of the root for various medicinal purposes. Over the years, it became popular in Central and Eastern Europe for culinary purposes too. Beetroot, as we know it today, was only cultivated in the 16th century. You may be surprised to learn that modern varieties are derived from the sea beet, an inedible plant that grows wild along the coasts of Europe, North Africa and Asia.

A super-root in disguise

Unlike some of the other, better known superfoods, like wheatgrass, spirulina or acai berry, beetroot is not overtly exotic. But don’t let that fool you! What has traditionally been viewed as a boring, somewhat unappetising vegetable, is really a “super-root” in disguise! It is a rich source of both carbohydrates and plant proteins, along with a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients (considered in more detail below). At the same time, it has a very low caloric value and is almost entirely free of fat. It is also a low-GI food – the sugar conversion process is slow, which supports stable blood sugar levels.

Antioxidants

You can’t have failed to notice the vivid colour of beetroot – whether the deep purple, the bright yellow or the lesser seen candy-stripes! Like so many other superfoods, these colours offer a visual clue about the high level of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids found in beetroot.

The notorious red colour compound is called betanin (or beetroot red), a pigment which is a well-known antioxidant and phyto-chemical. However, all beets contain betalain antioxidants – a class of red and yellow pigments found in plants.

Vitamins and minerals

Beetroot is also rich in a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, contributing to its reputation as a superfood. For example, it contains high levels of folate and vitamin C (another powerful antioxidant), as well as riboflavin, niacin and thiamin, vitamin K, calcium, silica, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

Dietary fibre

Beetroot is high in dietary fibre – both soluble and insoluble. A 100g portion “ about two or three small beetroot “ contains as much as 10% of your recommended daily allowance. Fibre is an essential component of healthy digestion and supports everything from stable blood sugar levels to natural cleanse and detox processes in the body.

Dietary nitrate

More recently, much research has been undertaken on beetroot’s capacity to absorb and store exceptionally high levels of nitrate – a nutrient involved in many of the processes that are essential for efficient exercise performance, including blood flow and oxygen usage. In particular, a study conducted by Exeter University in the UK received a lot of media attention when it found that cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20% longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice. Since that study, both beetroot and beetroot supplements have been of particular interest to athletes.

Supporting health and vitality

The unique combination of nutrients found in beetroot mean that it can offer ideal support for all-round health and vitality, including:

  • a healthy heart and cholesterol levels
  • detoxification and liver function
  • a strong immune system
  • healthy homocysteine levels
  • normal tissue growth
  • musculo-skeletal health
  • healthy skin, hair and nails
  • stable blood sugar levels
  • stamina and energy levels
  • stable moods
  • and healthy digestion.

Belonging to the same family as two other nutritional titans, chard and spinach, both the leaves and roots of beetroot can be eaten. Incorporate it into your daily diet and your body will thank you!



Spotlight on: Digestive enzymes

General Health & Wellbeing Posted on Tue, August 31, 2021 12:08PM

Enzymes are clever little molecules of protein that are made from amino acid chains. They act as catalysts (or triggers) to bring about specific biochemical reactions in the body, which produces over 3,000 kinds.

Every process in the body is driven by enzymes of one kind or another – whether acting alone, in combination or in complex chain reactions. They are therefore vital substances – without them, many biological functions would simply be impossible, or too slow for us to survive. So, they are certainly worth finding out a little more about because they play a central role in helping us to achieve optimal nutrition, health and vitality.

Types of enzymes

If we are deficient in enzymes, this can have a direct effect on the efficiency of important processes in the body, which can become unbalanced, making us more prone to ill-health. The structure of enzymes establishes their particular function or use.

Enzymes produced by the body can be classified into two types: metabolic enzymes and digestive enzymes.

Metabolic enzymes are primarily involved in energy production and cellular activity on every level, but they also have other functions – like helping to detoxify the body.

Digestive enzymes also have a number of functions, chief amongst which is assisting in the break down of food into its constituent nutrients (as the name suggests), followed by the absorption of these. The body uses different types of digestive enzymes to digest fats, proteins and carbohydrates for example. Enzymes can also be obtained through dietary sources, i.e. food enzymes present in natural whole foods, such as leafy green plants, fruit and vegetables. These assist the body with the digestion of that particular food. For the purposes of this article, we are particularly interested in the role played by enzymes in digestion.

The process of digestion

During digestion, food is broken down into a simple form that can be absorbed by the body. The process starts in the mouth with the chewing of food, continues in the stomach and small intestine where it is chemically broken down by the digestive juices and enzymes and finally gets completed in the large intestine. Basically, food is taken in, digested to extract essential nutrients and energy and any remaining waste is finally expelled.

Digestion is arguably one of the most important and complex processes in the body, because it dictates our nutrient absorption, as well as our toxin and waste elimination. It also involves a wide number of organs and nutrients. For instance:

  • Organs and other components: the mouth, teeth, tongue, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, rectum, anus and other organs are all involved in the digestive process.
  • Nutrients and other chemicals: such as saliva, hormone regulators, nerve regulators, gastric juices, friendly bacteria, bile, hydrochloric acid and, of course, digestive enzymes.

The efficiency of the digestive process therefore affects everything from immunity and hormone balance, to metabolism, toxic load, general health and well-being.

A digestive system that is sluggish or functioning less than optimally can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms and conditions, including constipation, imbalanced bowel flora, irritable bowel, heightened toxic load and even self-poisoning. Healthy digestion is therefore arguably the cornerstone of good health.

A bit more about digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes play a central role in healthy digestion. The human body produces around 22 different kinds, each of which acts on a different type of food. They work best at a specific temperature and pH and also have specific sites of action, such as the mouth and stomach.

As mentioned above, these enzymes are used to help break food down into nutrients and waste. The nutrient molecules must be digested into molecules that are small enough to be absorbed through the lining of the small intestine. When we don’t produce enough digestive enzymes to complete this process efficiently, or there are insufficient enzymes available from the foods in our diet, this can lead to what is called partial digestion.

Food that is not properly broken down cannot be absorbed. It can therefore sit fermenting in the stomach and small intestine, or putrefying in the colon. This can, in turn, lead to increased activity of harmful bacteria and parasites in the gut, along with poor nutrient absorption, fatigue, digestive upset, flatulence, bloating and more serious health issues (including food intolerances and allergies).

Digestive enzymes and health

In relation to digestion and nutrition therefore, it is essential to recognise the critical role of enzymes and the importance of having sufficient levels of these. However, according to Dr. Edward Howell, each of us has a finite reservoir of enzyme activity. What’s more, the complex digestive process requires a great deal of enzyme activity to extract nutrients from food and translate these into all the various tasks of the body. Factors such as caffeine and alcohol intake, illness, pregnancy, stress, severe weather and exercise can also all take their toll on our enzyme reserves. Plus, our bodies produce fewer enzymes as we age. By age 35, the production of enzymes in the stomach, pancreas and small intestines begins to decline. Enzyme production in the body decreases by 30% in most adults over 50. It therefore follows that it is sensible to put the least possible strain on the digestive system and its enzyme reserves, both by eating a healthy diet and, in particular, including a high number of enzyme-rich foods in it (such as raw foods, sprouted and/or fermented foods).

Unprocessed whole foods contain most of the enzymes required for digesting that particular food, which can then help to relieve some of the strain on the body when having to produce its own enzymes. Many people also consider digestive enzyme supplements, to support their digestion. In contrast, a diet high in enzyme-poor, highly refined and processed foods can place a significant strain on digestion. The body will try to compensate by producing more of its own digestive enzymes to make up for the lack of external plant enzymes, thereby depleting its own reserves more quickly. Theoretically, the more we can preserve our reservoir of precious enzymes, the better able our bodies will be to protect themselves against ill-health and maintain a healthy balance between activity, repair, immunity and recovery.