Inspiring lifestyles

Three ways to care for yourself following winter hibernation

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist

I love the springtime because of the possibilities and hopefulness it offers as nature never lets us down.

The countryside can look so bleak in winter, but in reality everything is simply resting, restoring itself and conserving its energy. So when the sun starts to shine and the days warm up, everything is ready to burst out with newness and freshness to exploit its full potential.

At the start of winter, I read a blog about how people go within and, like much of the natural world, adopt an attitude of hibernation. It prompted me to think differently about things: Could we be happier if we saw ourselves and our behaviour reflected in those seasonal flows?

Certainly, the cold, grey days have not bothered me as much as usual because I have appreciated lighting the fire and acknowledging that this is a time to slow up, rest and get ready – for spring and growth.

So as we begin to emerge from our hibernation, what do we need to do to care for ourselves effectively? Hydration, movement and a quiet mind are key and here is why:

1. Raise your energy levels by hydrating your mind and body

During the winter, most of us spend a lot of our time inside. But life indoors can be very dehydrating. There is central heating, hot fires and the electromagnetic fields of WiFi networks and mobile phones. Computers and other electrical equipment all produce heat when we use them, but all of these things take their toll on the levels of water content in our cells.

Indeed, according to the Hydration Foundation: “We are 99% water molecules and even a 2% reduction in hydration leads to measurable cognitive loss.” It is certainly a pity that more schools do not realise this fact as reduced hydration levels affect everything from the amount of energy an individual has, to their mood, their ability to concentrate, their hunger levels and their ability to feel joyful.

But the solution is easy: Simply drink more water, ideally eight glasses a day.  Build it up slowly, especially if you currently do not consume that much, or indeed any.

A really beneficial way to start your day is with a big glass (eight to 12 oz) of water, with a pinch of pink Himalayan or sea salt and/or a squeeze of lemon. If you make it the first thing you do, you will give your organs a really good soak and get the hydration message straight into your cells and brain. But do not be tempted to use table salt as it does not contain the same essential minerals as other forms. 

Plants and seeds can also hydrate us too. So add a tablespoon of ground chia seeds to your water and/or daily smoothie. Chia seeds form ‘gel water’, which is what we find inside plants – think of succulents, such as the Aloe vera.

Scientists have also recently discovered gel water inside our cells. This means they can absorb it instantly, giving us a great deal more energy and allowing the water to stay in our body for use rather than going straight through us. Find out more by viewing this TEDtalk by Dr Gerald Pollack.  

A daily smoothie, which includes hydrating green veg, fruit, added ground chia and other seeds and nuts, will likewise provide you with long-lasting hydration – as will eating juicy fruit like apples. But you might also benefit from reading a book called Quench, which was released in 2018. Jam-packed with vital information you may not have considered before, it also provides a five-day ‘Quench’ plan to ensure optimum hydration.

Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

2.Get moving

Once you become adequately hydrated, movement is important to encourage even more hydration at the cellular level. Many of us spend large chunks of time crunched up over our computer at a desk. But sitting in this way compromises your organs, and sitting still for long time periods has been deemed as harmful as smoking cigarettes. Not only is it dehydrating, but as an article in The Guardian once put it: “When you’re sitting, you’re one step from being dead.”

So make sure you get up and move. If you are focusing on hydrating yourself, a positive side effect is that your bladder will remind you to move, which will in turn increase your oxygen supply and improve your blood and lymph flow.

Elsewhere, standing desks have been found to increase productivity and reduce the number of sick days taken – but even just doing head-to-chin and small spinal twists while sitting will help.

Also make tiny, little movements before you get out of bed. When you see cats and dogs stretching as they wake up, they are helping the cerebral spinal fluid flow around the head and down the back, which means they both energise and detox themselves at same time.

In order to prepare your body for spring though, go out to get lunch rather than eat at your desk and take advantage of the vitamin D that the sun will help you produce. Or walk the dog more often, get off the bus one stop early or park a bit further than usual from your destination. These may sound like simple things, but they can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.  

Spending time outside also aids sleep as sunlight is required to set our circadian rhythms – and our gut microbiota respond to these natural cycles positively too. Even better, spend time outside with a friend who makes you laugh in order to boost your energy levels and release health-giving hormones. It really is about looking for the magic in everyday life.

3. Learn to quiet your mind

Finally, train yourself to quieten your mind using meditation, mindfulness techniques or simply a walk in the park where you focus on nature rather than on what is going on in your head. It is refreshing, relaxing and reboots your thinking.

Moreover, all it takes is a bit practice, and the benefits are huge. By stimulating your vagus nerve in this easy way, you are taken out of a fight or flight response, which physiologically reduces your stress response.

You can do it anywhere and only 10 minutes a day will help boost your mood, your energy levels and help destress you. A really helpful app here is Headspace. Complementary medicine advocate Deepak Chopra’s meditation programme is also great and he has a new one starting at the end of March, so why not give it a go?

Anita Ramsden

Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. Anita is also a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

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A healthy heart: What’s love got to do with it?

heart-love-romance-6371.jpg

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist

The heart represents many things. More than just an organ that pumps oxygenated blood around our bodies to keep us alive, it is also a universal symbol of love and governs our ability to give and receive this vital emotion.

As a result, the kind of language we use in relation to the heart tends to be quite profound. We say things are ‘heartfelt’ and advise others to ‘speak from the heart’ or ‘follow your heart’. The phrase ‘you can’t decide with your head, you need to trust your heart’ is also a common one and positions this important organ as a key link between mind and body.

In physiological terms alone, the heart is an incredible machine. The size of a fist, it weighs about 10oz (283 grams) and beats around 70 times a minute. In that time, it moves five to seven litres of blood around the body, or up to 7,600 litres a day. Without its constant activity, we would die immediately.

The heart also has its own electromagnetic field, which being the largest in the body, permeates every cell and sends signals to our brain. Electrocardiograms (ECG) have indicated that the power of this field is 60 times greater than that of brain waves and can be measured several feet away from the body. The heart and brain synchronise through these energetic impulses and scientists working in the relatively new discipline of neurocardiology believe they are the basis of heart-brain communication.

These scientists have also discovered that the heart is a sensory organ, which consists of 40,000 neurons that are commonly associated with the brain. In fact, according to the HeartMath Institute: “The heart acts as a sophisticated information encoding and processing centre that enables it to learn, remember and make independent functional decisions that do not involve the cerebral cortex” of the brain.

Such information may help to explain why cardiac surgeons counsel patients and family members about the surprising after-effects of some heart transplant surgery. The patient who receives a donated organ can take on the characteristics, memories, tastes and preferences of the donor.

heart-brainlink

Heart-brain link

Recipients may also recall their donor’s personal details and in some instances, recognise and even feel love for their family and friends. In the words of Dr Daniel Keown, a practitioner of both Eastern and Western medicine and author of ‘The Spark in the Machine’, this scenario would appear to indicate that the heart has carried the donor’s memories within itself and shared them with its new recipient’s brain.

But there is also other evidence of a heart-brain link. For example, more heart attacks take place at 9am on a Monday morning than at any other time of the week, possibly due to an association with stressful situations such as work.

Stress-induced or Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as broken heart syndrome, likewise occurs when part of the heart is temporarily no longer able to pump well. This condition is commonly seen in patients following the death of a loved one. Metaphorically and physically, they are heart-broken.

But the heart is just as responsive to love and compassion. According to Deepak Chopra in his book ‘Training the Mind, Healing the Body’, the survival rate of patients who have had a heart attack is 80% higher if they believe their partner loves them. Research also shows that people who are in loving, kind and affectionate relationships experience less hardening of the arteries.

If someone is caught up in negative emotions such as anger, frustration or anxiety, on the other hand, their heart rhythms become more erratic and disordered as the endocrine system responds to the situation and their body goes into fight or flight mode.

Experiencing positive emotions such as appreciation, love or compassion produces the opposite effect though, creating highly ordered or coherent patterns that move the body into a state of peace. The heartbeat becomes even and synchronises with other bodily functions, such as blood pressure, digestion and breathing, which calms everything down.

boy gives flowers

Being kind

Another consideration in this context are the health benefits of being kind. The feelings generated from performing acts of kindness and compassion, or even of simply witnessing them, creates oxytocin – the ‘happiness hormone’ – in our body. Oxytocin, in turn, produces nitric oxide, which softens the walls of our arteries, improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

So it makes sense, both for ourselves and others, to choose a day each week to undertake kind acts. As Dr David Hamilton indicates in his books ‘Molecules of Kindness‘ and ‘Born to be Kind’: “We are genetically wired for kindness. The kindness gene, in fact, is 500 million years old – it’s one of our most ancient genes – which is WHY kindness impacts our biochemistry. It’s our deepest nature.”

Hugging someone, including your pet, is also another great way to produce oxytocin. Doing so will lead to a drop in your heart rate, reduce your stress hormones, cut your production of free radicals and lessen inflammation.

A lovely correction technique that I also use from the Creative Kinesiology school of practice is called ‘Heart Appreciation’. You can try it yourself by simply concentrating your mind on someone or something that you really appreciate and feeling how good it feels to do so.

Then breathe the feeling into your heart and let it spread throughout your entire body. Imagine your heart as a cup and watch it overflow. Your whole body will relax and your energy levels will rise significantly. Because it really is about feeling the love at every level – in body, mind and most particularly in the heart.

Anita Ramsden

Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. Anita is also a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

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Everything is energy, and energy is everything…

Rainbow Flower of Life
Rainbow Flower of Life

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist.

The energy field around each and every one of us is an amazing and complex thing. We can feel it, sense it – and some people can even see it.

Have you ever felt that you ‘just really like’ someone after meeting them for the first time? Or perhaps you have said to a friend:  “That guy gives me the creeps.” They have neither explicitly said nor done anything to give you this impression, but you just feel it.

We do not have to learn to sense what in quantum mechanics is called our energy field though – we just do it innately. In the words of biologist Bruce Lipton: “Our energy is a communication, and we broadcast who we are out into the field.”

In fact, we are all broadcasting and receiving all the time, and it is our feelings that let us know whether we are a good match for someone else’s energy. We may rationalise the process in our heads, but ultimately it is our feelings that should be trusted. If you really want to know the answer to something, ask your heart the question. Just be still and listen to hear what it has to say.

But most of us are so accustomed to this energy that we often fail to realise we are even reading it. For example, if you walk into a room where people have been arguing, while they may put on a ‘there-is-nothing-going-on-here’ facade, the energy in the room will likely feel a bit awkward. Can you relate to this idea?

Quantum physics, for one, has no trouble in describing the body’s energy field, and Lipton explains the matter very simply. He says that atoms are made out of energy. Atoms band together to form molecules and molecules come together to make cells, which means that cells are made out of energy.

But if you take this thought process through to its logical conclusion, it becomes clear that, as humans are made up of cells, what we actually are, is energy beings.

No wonder then that our feelings are intrinsically important to our health and wellbeing. The more energy you have, the better you will feel and, by the same token, the less energy you have, the worse you will feel. To put another slant on it, some people you spend time with may drag you down or drain you of energy, while others will make you feel uplifted, light-hearted and refreshed.

The energy around our body is referred to as our ‘aura’ and consists of our electromagnetic field or energy body. Some special people such as healer Donna Eden can see people’s energy bodies. She can see their vibrancy as well as the various patterns, colours and holes they contain. In fact, in her classic book ‘Energy Medicine’, she indicates that she recognises people by their energy.

AuricBodies

The auric field consists of seven layers of electromagnetic energy. It is our life force and it protects us. It filters, transmits and attracts energy. When we are happy, it is big, bold and strong. But stress in particular can bring it crashing inwards and its ability to protect us becomes more limited. As a result, we are left vulnerable to the energies, or moods, of others. We feel more fragile and less able to simply brush things off.

This means that the more you pay attention to your feelings and gravitate towards people and situations that uplift you, the healthier your aura will become. It will also attract more of the same energy to it, which means you will find yourself surrounded by more positive people. But the same is true in reverse though, of course.

As a kinesiologist, I work with the body’s energy. As much as I would love to, I am not able to see it, but I do feel it. People’s energy to me feels bright, vibrant, crystal clear or sludgy, stuck, murky or heavy. It can also feel wired, jagged, sad or a host of other emotions. I can likewise feel shape, colour and brightness. I sometimes see images or feel physical pain in my own body.

This situation can be hard for others to grasp. On first starting out, one of my now regular clients said: “Well, I will come and see you again for some of your witchery. I don’t understand it, but it does seem to have a positive effect on me.”

I can appreciate people’s uncertainty in a modern age in which most of us rely so much more on science than on intuition. But as Eden says: “With our body comes an intelligence that exceeds understanding and intellect.”

Strangely though, there are a number of unseen energy forces that we choose to accept without question, perhaps because science has legitimised them or we have simply never thought about them in any depth. For instance, what stops us from flying off the planet? Isn’t there just as much “witchery” in gravity as there is in the body having its own energy system?

So many everyday magical things surround us in nature and all of them either require energy to exist or exist because of energy. Think of a seedling bursting out of its casing in the spring and pushing up through the soil. Or the heat from the sun’s energy that warms our planet, which for the most part is unseen – just felt.

Because, in fact, the energetic systems that protect, maintain and sustain our bodies were first documented in a work on Chinese medicine in around 100BC – ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine’ (Huangdi Neijing) referred to an “organised system of diagnosis and treatment” for acupuncture.

So such ideas are not really quite as ‘out there’ as some think. Rather they are simply concepts that have been forgotten in the West, but are now starting to re-emerge and move back into mainstream thought.

Anita Ramsden

Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. Anita is also a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

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Kinesiology: A personal journey

Life's journey
Life’s journey

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist.

Someone asked me the other day how I first got into kinesiology and that made me think of how my journey into the profession started a long time ago.

In fact, I was a student in London doing a BA honours degree in Jewellery at the time. Our technician had asked for some willing guinea pigs for his wife, who was studying to become a kinesiologist. Everyone looked at him with blank faces – and even now, I still occasionally get ‘a kinesi-what?’

But it did not take too much persuasion to get involved, mainly due to the fact that she was happy to feed any willing bodies, albeit macrobiotic food, which as it happens was delicious. So a pioneering group of us set off to discover what this brave new world was all about.

We lay down on the couch and ‘resisted her pressure’ as she tested the muscles of our arms and legs in various positions. She carried out corrections using massage points, homeopathic drops, colour, sound and so on. It was fascinating and magical. The whole experience was lots of fun and a huge eye opener to things I had never previously known existed.

But it was a year or so later that my journey down this path really began as I developed psoriasis, mainly on my scalp, while undertaking my finals. I saw a doctor many times during this time and tried all manner of shampoos, steroid creams and tablets, but to no avail.

Eventually I gave a kinesiologist a go and, after my first session, he advised me that my body was struggling to absorb dairy products and that I should stop eating anything containing milk. This statement caused me to experience a whole range of emotions, the biggest of which was fear.

No more cappuccinos – was he crazy? OMG, what about cake? Cheese I did not mind so much as I had always considered it a pointless food that I neither liked nor understood – and as for milk, yuk.

But this was back in the early 1990’s and dairy-free foods were not as readily available then, although they could be found in health food shops. You certainly would not come across them in what a friend calls “the fusspot section” of the supermarket as we do now.

Leap of faith
Leap of faith

Leap of faith

So I took a leap of faith, irritating anyone who offered to cook for me in the process, by swapping out cows milk-based products for the only real alternative at the time, soya milk. And I was disappointed to report there was no real change.

But when I returned to the kinesiologist, we discovered that my body had just as much of an aversion to soy as it did to dairy. No soya. Holy Moly – what would I eat now?

So I duly cut out all the soya products, which was not much of a sacrifice as I did not care much for them anyway. And then the magic happened: my psoriasis got better, disappearing never, ever, to return again.

I felt great. My digestive system was no longer a grumpy, irritated beast that made me prone to bloating, cramping and feeling gaseous, with all of the unfortunate consequences that entails.

I also no longer suffered from regular, painful coldsores, brought on by late nights, too much work and any kind of fun or stress. One of them even went rogue at one point and turned into impetigo. But I have to report that over the last 20 years or so, I have only had three or four at most.

While all of this may not sound life-changing, it was to me. I realised that my system was not depleted as a result of taking drugs or medicines. It was simply about putting something into my body that it struggled to digest. After years of doing its best, the added stress of my finals was just more than it could take.

When I look back, my body was always trying to tell me that I was failing to make lactase, the enzyme required to break down lactose in milk. Or alternatively, perhaps I did not have enough of it, or something was blocking it.

But as a baby, once my mum tried to put me on formula milk, I became covered in eczema. We struggled on though, eventually settling on a goat’s milk formula that was not rejected immediately by my delicate system.

Life force
Life force

Times move on

Although we were given various creams to help, I also developed multiple ear infections and repeated tonsillitis. By the age of five, they took out my tonsils and adenoids, which was a horrid operation. Could the procedure have been avoided if milk had not impaired my immune system? Yes, I believe so.

But times have moved on since then and at least some GPs would now suggest reducing or removing dairy from your diet in the case of skin complaints.

Anyway, this history meant that the kinesiologist’s diagnosis really struck a chord with me. I needed to add nothing to my diet – just take something away. It was so simple and yet it enhanced everything – my energy, my overall health and, much to my boyfriend’s delight, also reduced my moodswings. My digestive system became calm and amenable.

After that, I started seeing a kinesiologist for all of my ailments. By the time I came to seriously consider if I could actually work this magic myself, I had been benefiting from it for a very long time. I took all three of my children to my kinesiologist and most of my friends went too – if only to shut me up.

The most dramatic situation though was when I broke my coccyx. It became dislodged and moved over to one side rather than being straight. I had also slipped a disc and was suffering from sciatica, which meant I found it difficult to walk or drive. After my scan, the consultant said the best thing would be to have the coccyx surgically removed.

But I decided to call my kinesiologist, who is also a craniosacral therapist. Using very gentle techniques, she was able to encourage my body to ease the coccyx back into alignment. I suffered no more pain or discomfort and had no more need for it to be chopped off.

What more can I say: I love this work and am very keen for others to have healthy, happy outcomes as a result of it too – which is why I became a kinesiologist in the first place.

I have now also qualified as a ‘Touch for Health’ kinesiology instructor. If you would like to see for yourself whether this approach works for you, Touch for Health is the first step, so please contact me directly for teaching dates. Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about kinesiology in general or locate a practitioner near you, the Kinesiology Federation is definitely the place to go.

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Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. Anita is also a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

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Inspiring lifestyles

Water: The essence of life

nature water drops of water liquid
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist.

When people come for kinesiology sessions, a first, very important check is to understand just how hydrated they are – or not as the case may be.

Kinesiology is a useful tool here as it can be used to work out if they require more liquid and if so, what the optimum amount is for them. For most, it is between seven and eight glasses, or around two litres. But do bear in mind that tea, coffee and alcohol do not count towards this quota.

When muscle testing, you can ask the body, “do you need one glass, two glasses?” etc and keep going until you get a lock on the muscle. This means that any discoveries are always tailored to the individual.

Why drink more water?

On returning for another session, people always tell me how much better they feel as a result of being hydrated properly. They feel more awake, experience fewer headaches, can think more clearly and may even start eating less as some apparent hunger pangs are, in fact, thirst signals. Many individuals also sleep better, suffer fewer aches and pains and see their complexion improve as remaining hydrated helps the body to flush out toxins.

Initially though, people often feel a little resistance to such a simple idea as drinking water. They say they do not care for the taste or they do not feel thirsty. But what I say is: “Why not try it – if only just to prove me wrong!”

For those who are unused to consuming a lot of water, it is important to increase your intake gradually, adding an extra glass each day. In this way, the cells in your body can get used to it and begin to absorb it properly.

As you start to increase the amount of liquid you consume, your thirst mechanism will become more efficient and your body might begin asking you to drink more. It is a surprising fact that, once you start to drink more water, you often start to feel more thirsty. This is because your body understands it is no longer in a drought situation and so feels able to ask for more.

After all, the human body is 75% water and 25% solid mass. Even on an average day without undertaking a lot of exercise, 2500ml of water leaves the body as urine, as air expelled from our lungs and as sweat through our skin.

If you read Patrick Holford’s brilliant book, Optimum Nutrition, he explains that our lungs are 90% water, our blood 82%, our brain 76% our muscles 75% and our bones, 25%.

As a result, if we are not taking in adequate amounts of liquid, our internal processes start to suffer – although the body does have its own drought management system to prevent dehydration and enable survival.

Woman Standing By Waterfall With Her Hands Raised
Waterfall

How to increase your water intake

I always advise clients to take a glass of water to bed with them at night and to drink it when they wake up. If you do so regularly, it will become a habit. You are at your most dehydrated first thing in the morning after sweating during the night and your body will love you for replenishing it so quickly.

Dr Batmanghelidj, who wrote a well-known book entitled ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’, recommends that should you have trouble sleeping, take a glass of water and put a tiny pinch of salt (sea salt or Himalayan, if you have it) on your tongue. Do not allow it to touch the roof of your mouth, but let it dissolve in a bit of the water and swallow.

Be sure to ignore this advice if you have kidney problems or have been advised to avoid or cut down on salt though.

Once you have spent a few days getting used to the amount of water your body needs, fill a two-litre bottle up and ensure you drink this amount during the day. Stainless steel bottles are a great investment here as not only do they keep your drink nice and cold, but plastic bottles degrade over time and leach harmful plastic into the water.

If you are not keen on the taste of your local tap water though, simply fill a jug and let it stand for a while as the chlorine it contains will evaporate, leaving you with a sweeter, more palatable liquid. Restaurants always fill their well-iced water jugs ahead of time for this very reason. Alternatively, you can buy a water filter jug to remove any impurities.

During the winter months, adding lemon, mint, thyme or ginger to hot water also makes it more pleasant to consume and can easily be used as a replacement for tea and coffee. Lemon is particularly beneficial as it adds vitamin C, which is good for eliminating toxins. But cucumber is also a fantastic addition too as it is a good source of potassium, which can help lower your blood pressure.

alcohol background beverage citrus
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Does water have any side effects?

The first thing that people discover is that the more water that goes into their system, the more needs to come out. The process is similar to that seen with a dried-up pot plant.

When you first start to water it, the soil is so dry, it just runs straight through. But after a little while, it takes up some of the water and rehydrates. This means that when you water it again, it is able to soak a lot more of the water up and retain it, so the plant can benefit.

It is for this reason that it is important to increase your intake over the course of a few days. But the great thing is that, as the water leaves your body, it also takes with it waste materials and toxins that the body has no need of, thereby purifying your system.

As a rule of thumb, according to Dr Batmanghelidj, healthy urine “should, ideally, be almost colourless to light yellow. If it begins to become dark yellow or even orange in colour, you are becoming dehydrated. This means the kidneys are working extra hard to get rid of toxins in the body in very concentrated urine”.

In fact, in his book, he demonstrates his belief that all too often, “you are not sick, you are thirsty”, using thousands of real-life case histories to prove his point. He provides the science behind the intricate workings of the body and shows how we need water, among other things, to keep our joints lubricated, which reduces arthritic pain, to prevent asthma by keeping our lungs hydrated, to reduce excess body weight and eradicate dyspeptic pain. In fact, he describes water as “a revolutionary, natural way to prevent illness and restore good health”.

One of the key factors here is that drinking water is an excellent way of keeping the digestive system working effectively. If the body is well hydrated, the large intestine is not looking to prevent any excess water from leaving the body. Therefore, taking in sufficient liquid can help to reduce constipation.

So as you can see, it truly is amazing just how many benefits can be gained from such a cheap, and easy-to-obtain, commodity – who would have thought it?

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Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. She is a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

 

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