Friday, 20 April 2018

Green Tea ... a miracle cure in a tea pot!

In recent years information and articles on the incredible benefits of natural plants seem to be almost a daily occurrence. Tea’s made from plants particularly piqued my interest.   Green Tea has long  been touted as a miracle drink and is something that I drink almost daily so I'm often asked why I drink it? Many people tell me that they don't like Green Tea but I often explain that it's not about liking it, it's about liking yourself. The immense benefits outweigh any unpleasantness that a little honey or sugar can fix, it's also worth noting that if your Green Tea sits for too long I find it goes bitter, so drink it fresh. Also choose a good quality organic tea, never underestimate how important your choice of tea is, I've had some awful tasting conventional Brand Green Teas in my time.

Sadly much of the clinical research I found and referenced use animals in what was otherwise very positive research outcomes. The upside, research on this beneficial tea and its compounds isn't quite so awful for our furry friends and what is good enough for them is good enough for me. So I've endeavoured to down a pot of green tea each day and see if I felt any different.

My terribly scientific study resulted in me managing to boost my energy levels enough to now walk 8 km a day with a step average of about 18,000 steps a day. I've lost 2 kg and 2 inches off my waste, 1 inch off my bust (not so happy about that) and another inch off my hips. Even more interesting was that I managed to escape the dreaded flu despite my household being struck down with the most ghastly illness…whilst I on the other hand was skipping and whistling in great spirits, feeling energetic and ready to conquered the world. Surely that's got to count for something in clinical research terms. Ok maybe not, but certainly the information I gathered below goes a long way to supporting the notion that anyone wanting to improve their health, fitness, weight, disease prevention and longevity certainly need to take the time to explore potential life altering Herbal Tea options. I know I’ll be keeping Green Tea as part of my lifestyle choices.

So what's all the fuss about Green Tea

Green Tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants, but did you know these substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. Free radicals are known to play a role in ageing and growth of diseases, so it only makes sense to include green tea in your daily diet.

Further investigation uncovered it fights health problems, ageing and disease including breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, even the common flu and oral hygiene issues, Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, abdominal fat and it has been proven to assist longevity.

Research has found that women who drank the most green tea had a 22% lower risk of developing breast cancer, the most common cancer in women. One study found that men drinking green tea had a 48% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men. A study of 69,710 Chinese women found that green tea drinkers had a 57% lower risk of colorectal cancer.

If that's not enough the benefits of the bioactive compounds in green tea can have various protective effects on neurons and may reduce the risk of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Studies show that the water-soluble polyphenols (frequently referred to as catechins) in Green Tea can kill bacteria and inhibit viruses like the influenza virus, potentially lowering your risk of infections. This anti bacterial property also help prevent plaque formation on the teeth which is a leading contributor to cavities and tooth decay. Further studies have shown Green Tea is effective at reducing bad breath. 

Studies show that green tea can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. One study in Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a 42% lower risk of developing type II diabetes. According to a review of 7 studies with a total of 286,701 individuals, green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.

Improves brain function and may reduce anxiety

Green Tea contains Caffeine (so don't do what I've done on occasion and had one near bedtime). Caffeine has been intensively studied and consistently leads to improvements in various aspects of brain function, including improved mood, vigilance, reaction time and memory. However... green tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and great news for many is that it has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain and can actually improve brain function. So if you've got a big report to write, or stress at home and work, maybe choose a Green Tea rather than a coffee to help get you through. 

Helps you Burn Fat

Green tea has been shown to increase fat burning and boost the metabolic rate, in human controlled trials. According The the American Journal of Psychology (Addressing the increase in the global prevalence of obesity) ‘Tools for obesity management include caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea have been proposed as strategies for weight loss and weight maintenance, since they may increase energy expenditure and have been proposed to counteract the decrease in metabolic rate that is present during weight loss.

In fact according to a study published in the NCBI, National Centre for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Information, in 2008 called ‘Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans’ the study showed that fat oxidation was increased by 17%, indicating that green tea may selectively increase the burning of fat.

Several studies show that green tea leads to decreases in body fat, especially in the abdominal area. One of these studies was a randomised controlled trial in 240 men and women. It demonstrated that green tea had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat. 

Protects against heart disease

Green tea has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as protect the LDL particles from oxidation. Observational studies show that green tea drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Increases longevity

Obviously with the amount of health benefits already listed above naturally green tea drinkers increased longevity is a given, however additionally a study of 40,530 Japanese adults (who drank 5 or more cups of green tea per day) were significantly less likely to die during an 11 year period. In fact 23% lower in women, 12% lower in men and death from heart disease: 31% lower in women, 22% lower in men and death from stroke: 42% lower in women.  Another study of 14,001 elderly Japanese men and women aged 65-84 years found that those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die during the 6 year study period.

It’s important to note that higher quality teas may have better quality leaves and greater benefit. Plus research indicates adding milk to tea reduces the benefits. 

For people with anaemia, especially during chemotherapy, it’s important to know that green tea may lower the absorption of iron. This can be avoided by drinking green tea at a time separate from meals, and waiting at least one hour after meals to drink your tea

Helps kill Cancer Stem Cells 

According to papers by Dr. Ajay Goe a Professor and Director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Research and Director of the Center for Translational Genomics and Oncology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. “Chemo resistance is the Achilles’ heel of cancer treatment, mostly because of cancer stem cells. While chemotherapies kill tumour cells, they leave the cancer stem cells unharmed. With time — anywhere from six months to a few years — those stem cells can cause a relapse. By then, the tumour is usually more aggressive and harder to treat, and the stem cells become “superman” cells because of their resilience. So, since the cancer is stronger, it can come back with a vengeance and patients may not respond to chemotherapy at all. Green tea, though, helps kill these resilient cells because of unique properties in its active ingredient, EGCG.” He recommend that patients with colorectal cancer take EGCG/green tea supplements, or drink the tea as a natural protection.

Improves Postmenopausal Bone Mineral Density

 According to epidemiological studies the bone mineral density (BMD) of postmenopausal women with a habit of tea drinking was higher than that of women without habitual green tea consumption. 

The active ingredient in green tea, EGCG, can prevent and repair cell damage, including stem cells,  green tea can stimulate the genes that activate stem cells.

The benefits of Green Tea as part of our healthy lifestyle is quite evident. Below I've listed just some of the research papers I found if you would like further information. 

(Note: This article is for information purposes only, seek medical or professional advice prior to changing your lifestyle and diet).

Green tea research

In vivo antioxidant effect of green and black tea in man.

Fluoride content in tea and its relationship with tea quality.

The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks

L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans

The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent.

L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.

Involvement of GABAA Receptors in the Neuroprotective Effect of Theanine on Focal Cerebral Ischemia in Mice

Obesity and thermogenesis related to the consumption of caffeine, ephedrine, capsaicin, and green tea

Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in healthy humans.

Green tea, black tea and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies.


Prospective cohort study of green tea consumption and colorectal cancer risk in women.

Neurological mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Simultaneous manipulation of multiple brain targets by green tea catechins: a potential neuroprotective strategy for Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases.

Potential Therapeutic Properties of Green Tea Polyphenols in Parkinson’s Disease

The bactericidal activity of tea and coffee

Antimicrobial effects of green tea polyphenols on thermophilic spore-forming bacteria

Anti-influenza virus activity of green tea by-products in vitro and efficacy against influenza virus infection in chickens.

Antiviral effect of catechins in green tea on influenza virus.

Green tea catechins, EGCG and burning fat

Anticaries Effects of Polyphenolic

Combination effects of antibacterial compounds in green tea flavor against Streptococcus mutans

Antibacterial Activity of Iranian Green and Black Tea on Streptococcus Mutans: An In Vitro Study

Green tea: a promising natural product in oral health.

Anticariogenic effects of green tea.

Effect of green tea on volatile sulfur compounds in mouth air.

Effect of tea catechins for halitosis and their application to chewing gum  [1991]

Inhibitory effect of Chinese green tea on endothelial cell-induced LDL oxidation

Inhibitory effect of jasmine green tea epicatechin isomers on LDL-oxidation

Influence of green tea and its three major components upon low-density lipoprotein oxidation

The Relation between Green Tea Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease as Evidenced by Epidemiological Studies

Dietary patterns and cardiovascular disease mortality in Japan: a prospective cohort study

Does Tea Affect Cardiovascular Disease? A Meta-Analysis

A Green Tea Extract High in Catechins Reduces Body Fat and Cardiovascular Risks in Humans

Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition.

Effectiveness of green tea on weight reduction in obese Thais: A randomized, controlled trial

Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all causes in Japan: the Ohsaki study.

Green Tea Consumption and Mortality among Japanese Elderly People: The Prospective Shizuoka Elderly Cohort

How Green Tea kills cancer stem cells

Green Tea helps fight lung cancer

Green tea catechin enhances osteogenesis in a bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell line

Friday, 9 February 2018 it a sign of the times..Are 'Schools’ the new public health and social media police force?...

Are 'Schools’ the new public health and social media police force…and now Lamingtongate?


Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week you would've heard about the great lamington debacle where a kindergarten teacher decided to reprimand the parents for providing a ‘deadly’ lamington in a kindy lunchbox.  As we know lamingtons are deadly, oh hang on no they're not….they're actually a nice little treat and occasionally it's a lovely surprise for your child to find something in their lunchbox that maybe they don't have everyday.

As a parent that's one of your joyful rights to give your child little treats occasionally. I do it as frequently as I choose to, and good luck to anyone who tries to police it. I cook my son organic vegetarian, he eats extremely well,  he can even have meat if he chooses. So school lunches, well his are quite boring, I reserve the bulk of his nutritional intake for breakfast and dinner, so his lunches are simple, but occasionally I might sneak a chocolate into his lunchbox (insert shock horror face)… because  like most parents I know that kids get bored with  lunchboxes and sometimes you need to mix it up a little bit and give them a little surprise and make them happy. I'd rather put my time into creating a great dinner than try create some sort of bento box of culinary art work every lunchtime. 

Education on any topic including nutrition (and for anyone especially kids) is about providing examples and scenarios for learning so in fact putting a small treat in your child's lunch box can instil a sense of balance and an acceptance that treats are ‘small’ and occasional. To outright ban them is not conducive to teaching responsibility and good lifestyle choices. It's removing the learning experience. 

I worked in education for nearly 20 years and I've taught in classrooms with young people and adults so don't get me wrong this is not in any way a teacher bashing exercise, quite the opposite, as a teacher and the manger of a teaching department  I experienced and witnessed the enormous amount of responsibility that shifted to teacher from parents, right up to the TAFE and even Uni level. Where teachers often step in and provide guidance and support on issues that often left me wondering "Isn't this the parents job?" As the mother of primary school child I've seen my son's teachers demonstrate incredible capability but also struggle under the volume of administrative and 'miscellaneous ' responsibilities vying for their time. I've seen the ever growing number of schools and teachers policing parents, with the government using schools as their police force and consequently some teachers and schools now thinking they have the right to police parents.  Isn't it a parents job to parent appropriately? When did it become a teachers job? It's no news to most that the government have over regulated, administered and imbedded social issues into school curriculum to the point that now government, schools and parents think it's the schools job to police many  aspects of parenting. Yes teach kids nutrition in the schools but maybe schools need to keep their nose out of parents  jobs. If the government want to address parental nutrition education, they need to stop using schools as the police for everything. Teachers are over burdened enough. Instead teach parents directly, provide workshops, give guidance, provide them resources, address the rubbish packaged food available in shops but stop giving schools the authority and disempowering  parents, thus giving schools a perceived superiority over parents. Yes kids have a lot of rubbish in their lunch boxes but this is a systemic problem that the government need to address directly with retailers and manufacturers and directly with parents not a job for sticky nose schools and teachers on a power trip. Teachers and schools need to  focus on doing their job, to teach kids not police parents.  So let's stop  confusing the need for  a public awareness campaign with the academic education system.

Are Schools the new social media police rather than an education SERVICE provider?

This  leads me to the next issue....the new police force also known as your ‘local school’. Now no doubt I'll get into trouble with some local parents for daring to broach this subject… but let's talk ‘social media policy’. I'm not talking about the policy on teaching kids kind and meaningful communications and anti bullying strategies for the use of online technology… I'm talking schools policing freedom of speech of ‘parents’ (their customers). 

For starters as an educator and university business department manager I look at education as a service that people pay good money for. It's not a hand out, we pay for it through very high taxes and private fees. So keep that in mind as you read on.

But first let's go back to the kids experience for a minute, I see a learning opportunity in everything so yes I allow my young (8yr old) to have an Instagram account. It's completely supervised and provides an incredible learning experience on expressing and exploring his interest in animals and nature, photography, editing, technology, written communication and even social interaction, including showing support for his friends, family and peers who also use this media for their interests and businesses. He gets to see his cousins dog on walks and learn about his aunties therapy business and follow his cousins amazing University experience in environmental biology. In addition he occasionally sees something that doesn't fit with his ethics, maybe about animal treatment. So that too is a great learning experience. So I say to him “What can you do or say that might make a difference?”. He might write a little comment expressing that animals and pets have feelings or get upset and we need to protect them. That in itself is an enormous learning opportunity, to express his social conscience, to be a voice for those that don't have one and to use social media to possibly communicate about important issues. 

So when the schools get on the  bandwagon of  ‘Facebook policy’ or the ‘social media policy’ ….. let's just think about it …are they policing parents opportunity to express and defend their opinions, freedom of speech and rights? Imagine if any other service providers be they  fully privately funded or partially government funded like a hospital, doctors, dentist, housing, hairdresser, personal trainer, cleaner, gardener, plumber presented you with a social media policy and requested that you sign or agree to it, effectively deeming your right to speak  openly about an experience with their service is removed. Imagine if a shop somewhere that you regularly bought your food or your clothes or your household items or your furniture decided that they had the right to tell you what you were allowed to talk about in your social media. So it's a little bit baffling as to why this one particular 'service' provider that we pay for through our taxes and through private fees have decided that they have the right to tell us that we are no longer allowed to communicate openly about our child's experience in education, about what we think could be improved and  about what we think they have done well, or what we enjoyed, and what we didn't enjoy in relation to our child's school experience.

No other service provider could get away with this but somehow we have been conditioned that schools have this power, the authority and they are now policing parents  in a country which is thought to value freedom of speech. Like every other service provider, including my own businesses I have to make sure my customer service and the quality of my products and services are at a standard to make sure my customers do not complain about it and if they do complain about it on my social media or I become aware of it I need to make sure I fix it. I won't be sending out a noticed for my customers  to sign saying that you are not allowed to openly speak about anything they feel about  my products or services. That is positively ludicrous.

To put it in context one of my past experiences in my teaching and education management  career was to Project Manage the RMIT University customer service training strategy. It was an enormous roll out of training at multiple levels of staff from teachers, administration  to senior management. I don't remember at any point our training consisting of slapping a gagging order on parents of students in the form of a social media policy directed at parents rights to freedom of speech. Just food for thought….

Social media provides a platform for the general public to now have a voice and to demand better quality service and standards to communicate with their peers about what is potentially good or poor quality, to get  ideas, to try new things to share experiences… for any organisation or institution to feel that they have the right to police that is a form of corruption and abuse of the system. 

Many of us have had at least one experience where the line between schooling and parenting has been uncomfortably close. 

Never one to hold back my opinions, I was once notified by my son’s school to advise that I had breached the school social media policy by talking about my dissatisfaction with the homework experience that he had. (So imagine what they'll think of this article). My conversation was set to private friends only and was primarily  with my 40+ past colleagues and professionals in education who I was seeking advice and guidance from and asking whether they had had similar experiences or felt that it was appropriate whilst I vented.  Unfortunately one of my ‘friends’ and I use the term loosely decided it was their right to share my private conversations with the school. Obviously I informed the school that their involvement and any access to this conversation is an incredibly infringement of my privacy and freedom of speech. The only real lesson there for me was to not accept online  friendships from bored mothers with nothing better to do with their time than cause problems for others. However I know I'm not alone in experiencing the wrath of the "Big Little Lies" type soccer mums for daring to go against the grain and be honest.

So before you sign or accept your child's school policing your diet or freedom of speech stop and think, is this really their place in society or should they focus on the academic support and development of children and leave the parenting to us? You might be surprised that teachers and schools might  be happy to push back some of the responsibility to parents and remove themselves from the equation. It might be time for parents to start questioning the status quo and draw the line in the sand between home and school... parent and teacher... 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Organic Mulled Wine

Organic Mulled Wine is a great treat, especially on a cool night. So with some mild weather forecaster for Melbourne this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day why don't you warm up a batch of this to share while you wait for Santa! 


10 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup caster sugar

1 roughly grated nutmeg
2 cups water
Rind of 1 orange roughly grated
1 apple, roughly chopped (skin on)
750ml fruity red wine (such as a merlot)

Orange slices to garnish 

You can garnish with cinnamon stick or anything you like to make it look pretty 


1. Heat cloves, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, water, orange rind and apple in a large saucepan over medium heat.

2. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain and serve immediately.


Friday, 8 December 2017

4 Looks you'll Love these Summer Holidays

Find some great denim options online here
White tops are an absolute essential and we've found the best here

Stripes can add a touch of sophistication to a simple ensemble. Find  some of my favourites here

Tie tops add a feminine look by highlighting shape in a flattering way. I've found an option for every shape here

The Boho look is one of my all time favourites. It's a throwback to my childhood and has a relaxed whimsical feminine look. You'll find my favourites here