What To Know About Kefir Grains

There is a lot to know about kefir grains. They have been around for a very long time. They are a probiotic and they have their origins in the Caucasus Mountains.

They range in color from white to yellow. They will grow to be the size of a walnut. Kefir grains are good for your gut. They have been able to help a lot of people.

The grains look like little cauliflower florets. The pattern is like what you would find with coral or even a brain. They are soft and bouncy. They are almost like a small squeeze toy.

If the grains are dried, they almost look like light cheddar cheese. They do become darker as they get drier. They will eventually appear a deeper orange.

The grains are a combination of 30 different strains of bacteria and yeast. They are composed of 4.4% fat, 45.7% Muco-polysaccharides, 12.1% ash and 34.3% total protein. They are a pretty interesting grain.

You should be able to use kefir grains to make water kefir. That is like a homemade soda with many probiotic benefits. You should be able to make a yummy tasting drink with the water kefir. Something your kids will really enjoy.

They can also be used to make milk kefir.

Another use for kefir grains is for house plants. They will add extra nutrients to them. A lot of gardeners like to do that to help the plants grow. Pets also enjoy eating them.

You can also dehydrate them to save for an emergency. That way you will always have grains, even if something happens to your main supply. It will be nice to have some around if that happens.

If you happen to eat too many at once you could experience a detox. Your body is just not used to having so much good bacteria at once. Some people do plan a keifer detox to clean out their systems.

Keifer does go through seasonal changes. They tend to ferment quickly in the summer and when there are warmer temperatures. In the winter they will tend to be a bit more creamy and mild.

Another great thing about kefir grains is that they are pretty hardy. They can take a hard beating but will wear down overtime. You can put them in a blender and they will survive that. You do want to care for them but it is nice to know that they are not too fragile.

With as many different ways to use kefir grains, they are a great item to keep in your home. From smoothies to house plants, there are so many benefits. Once you start working with them you will figure out how they can work for your family.

Don’t be afraid of them if you are new to the keifer world. They are a wonderful thing and you will not regret using them. Once you have worked with them for a while you can pass some on to some of your friends. Share what you have learned and let them see the benefits too.

7 Heart Smart Foods (How To Eat Healthy And Help Your Heart)

healthy_heart_foodsDespite the decrease in cardiovascular disease in Australia in the last three decades, it is still one of the top causes of death in the country and continues to plague the population in terms of disability and illness. One of the main triggers of heart disease is atherosclerosis – it Is the build up of fat cholesterol and plaque in the inner lining of the arteries. The development of the condition usually starts during childhood and progress with age. When blood supply to the heart affected, it can result into a heart attack, angina and sudden death. When an artery is blocked or suddenly ruptured and bleeds, it will lead to stroke and paralysis. Major risk factors include hypertension, high blood cholesterol, tobacco smoking, obesity, inadequate physical activity, diabetes and an unhealthy diet.

A change in lifestyle can help lower the risks of getting a serious heart disease. It doesn’t have to be a sudden change or going cold turkey. A slow and gradual change in lifestyle  will give realistic and attainable results.  Anyone can start by changing into a healthy diet. There are foods that actually help in clearing the arteries other that oats.

  1. Oats. Oat bran and oatmeal are at the top of bad cholesterol flashers. The soluble fibers in it attaches itself to bad cholesterol and flushes it out of the system. It’s also rich in Niacin  which increases HDL or good cholesterol. Fruits can be added  to make it more delectable and healthy.
  2. Vegetables. Green leafy vegetables  like spinach and broccoli contains vitamin C and vitamin A which prevents cholesterol oxidation and help keep the arteries free of plaque. Garlic and onions lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent blood clots. It also helps the blood lining to relax resulting in a more efficient blood flow. Tomatoes and avocados (fruity vegetables) are rich in antioxidants
  3. Salmon and other oily fishes. Oily fishes are rich in omega-3  fatty acids and helps in lowering heart diseases by reducing plaque buildup and blood clots in the arteries. . Salmon fat is monounsaturated which helps in controlling cholesterol levels. It lowers the trigledytes and elevated good cholesterol in the body.  Canned salmons are good although it may high in sodium. Whenever possible buy it fresh and cook it using olive oil, steamed or any which way preferred.
  4. Apples. An apple a day keeps bad cholesterol away. The fruit is high in fiber such as “pectin” which binds  with bad cholesterol. It also contains flavonoids that can help reduce heart disease by up to 50% if eaten regularly.
  5. Olive oil. Using cold-pressed virgin olive oil in cooking or used as flavoring to foods can cut the risks or developing or reducing heart disease. Regular consumption of olive oil decreases systolic and diastolic blood pressure plus it is rich in antioxidants like vitamin E that helps in decreasing the chance of developing certain cancers.
  6. Wine. Consuming a glass or two daily with meals can help in reducing plaques and increase the level of HDL or good cholesterol. Flavonoids in red wine help in relaxing the arteries prevent blood clots. Drink in moderation and not consume the whole bottle in one sitting.
  7. Dark chocolate. Ah, chocolate. The great equalizer and probably the most sought after in the list. It may be on the bitter side but compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains flavonoids that help in lowering blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Chocolate lovers, celebrate.

Beat Those Back-To-School Blues

Academic years around the world differs. In Australia it varies between states and institutions but it generally runs from late January/ early February up to mid December for primary and secondary schools with slight variations during the inter term holidays. For colleges and universities,  its from late February up until mid November with breaks and seasonal holidays for each educational institute. But there is one thing every student around the world, on any type of academic year they are into  will surely feel – the dread of going back to school. Well, it’s not as horrible as it sounds but no one can deny the back to school blues and hang-ups. Some can feel a bit of depression, some a little bit excited and just the thought of going back to school will make them go back to bed and not care at all. There are several signs that an individual is experiencing the blues: sleepless nights, not  eating well, unexplained stomach aches, thinking of the first day of school a lot, sleeping more than normal and plotting on how to get out of the first week or what to do on the first weekend on the first week of school. Such  signs will vary with each individual but anyone can beat the back to school blues.

Going back to school doesn’t have to be so bad. Below are some of the suggested ways in knocking out the anxieties and the school blues away.

Reconnect with old friends. For kids and adults alike, it’s not unusual to lose touch with school friends once the school year ends. For kids, arranging a playdate a few weeks before school starts is a good way of re-establishing relationships with old friends and playmates. Connecting with old friends will help the kids to be more confident and excited at the same time before school starts. For adults, connecting with high school or college friends is just as easy as a simple phone call, a text message or an email then arrange a small party to jump start the school year.

Get back into the school rhythm. While every student will be tempted to hold on to every minute and last opportunity to live a schedule and home work free life, it will be very helpful to establish a new routine before the start of the school year. Quit late night activities and try to ease back to a more manageable sleep rituals. Being comfortable with the new eating and sleep schedule will help minimize anxiety and the changes to a person’s system and body clock.

Change expectations. Don’t put too much pressure on the school, teacher or fellow students. Let the new school year flow naturally and accept some of the changes. Embrace and accept the new start. Use mood uppers such as listening to a favorite music, reading a good book, going for a walk with family and friends or having sex ( this applies to responsible adults).

Set goals. Most students feel jittery  about how things will go once the new school year starts. Setting academic, personal and professional goals will give a sense of control over any new experiences and as a result, it will motivate the student to tackle the challenges head on.

Talking to kids about start of school worries. Every child has their own back to school worries like fitting in  and making new friends or being scared of the challenges a new grade will present. As a parent, find out exactly the causes of their worries and help them think of things about how to overcome their fears. Let the kids know that the teacher, school counselor and the parents are there to help them whenever they need it.  Open the lines of communication.

Normalize the experience. Back to school fears are common to all students, from children to adults. It’s a good reminder that all students feel the same thing and will have similar experiences at the start of the school year. Sharing experiences with kids about back to school jitters especially from a parent’s experience will help kids in gaining confidence. For high school and college students, it will not hurt to talk to  your parents about any anxieties about the first day of school.