Hello Chantal.  Not sure what the weather's like where you are, but blimey it's got cold here in London all of a sudden!  I don't mind, as long as I have enough jumpers, scarves, hats, gloves etc.  In fact, I rather like wintry weather; brisk walks where you can see your breath, the cold biting the tip of your nose - it gives homemade soups their raison d'ętre...

I got back from a client's quite late last night and wanted something nutritionally substantial but not too heavy or bulky. Within 15 minutes, I was sitting down to a delicious bowl of courgette and red lentil soup which I cooked from scratch. Now that's comfort food we needn't worry about. 

So this week, we're at U is for...  A while ago, a friend asked me what I would do when I got to X and Z?  I coolly replied that I'd think of something... Little did I know the challenge would come earlier with U!  Ugli fruit? Vitamin U? (which may or may not exist!)... and then it came to me...

"We're only a few weeks in and I'm already noticing a difference. The scales say I haven't lost any weight, but my clothes are definitely looser! I have so much more energy throughout the day and I'm sleeping better too. Friends are asking me what my secret is - tee hee!"

ABCs of Natural Health - U is for Umeboshi

Umeboshi is essentially a Japanese pickled plum - Ume being the name of the species of plum, or more accurately, apricot. 

First the Ume are washed and then left in the sun to dry. They are then left out overnight so that they are softened by the dew. This process is repeated for several days.  The now smaller, wrinkled plums are then packed into barrels with purple shiso leaves and raw sea salt and a weight is placed on top. The pressure and effect of the salt shrinks the fruit further, and squeezes out any remaining moisture or juice into the bottom of the barrel.

The end result, Umeboshi,  are red, round, wrinkled and sour.  In Japan, they are usually eaten with rice either as part of a bento (Japanese lunchbox) or in onigiri which are rice balls wrapped in nori.

Umeboshi are believed to be good for health, and may be eaten as a folk remedy for the cold, and as is so often the case, there may be a good reason for this…

Alkalizing effect of Umeboshi

Now you will have heard me bang on about the acid alkaline balance in our bodies before:

Just as our body has a specific temperature requirement in order for us to function properly, our blood has a specific pH requirement and it’s on the alkaline side (7.365 to be precise).  Unfortunately our diets are pretty acid forming.  Many of the aches, pains, diseases, viruses, allergies and conditions we accept as normal could be avoided if we paid more attention to this one, single fact.  So as I was researching Umeboshi, I was interested to read the following,

"Ume has been named 'the king of alkaline foods'.  By taking 10 grams of umeboshi we can neutralize the acidity created by consuming 100 grams of sugar. The strength of this alkalinizing effect is due to three factors:

• The abundance of citric acid makes the absorption in the small intestine of alkaline minerals, such as iron, magnesium, etc., from other foods, much easier. Citric acid combines with those minerals from other foods, creating an easy to absorb mineral salt.

• Umeboshi itself contains high amounts of alkaline minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, potassium, etc. Because these minerals are digested in the presence of citric acid, their absorption is insured.

• Citric acid breaks down the lactic acid in our blood and tissues.”

The article went on to list some other components contained in Umeboshi:

"Picric Acid: This acid supports and stimulates the function of the liver. Umeboshi also helps the liver to clean out artificial chemicals from our body.

Catechin Acid: This acid speeds up the peristaltic movement of the intestines; it also has an antiseptic effect, and promotes the digestion of proteins.

Pectin Acid: This acid is present in the umeboshi peel. It has a laxative effect.

Ume contains protein, minerals and fat in twice the amount found in other fruits. In particular calcium, iron and phosphorus are abundant.

Per 100 g fruitCalciumIronPhosphorus 
Ume65 mg130 mg2.7 mg
Apple3 mg7 mg0.2 mg
Strawberry14 mg17 mg0.5 mg
Peach3 mg13 mg0.3 mg

Additionally, shiso leaves are said to be rich in chlorophyl, vitamin A, B2, and C, calcium, iron and phosphorus. They also contain linoleic acid, which has the ability to dissolve cholesterol. They help calm the nervous system, activate the digestive system, they are helpful in case of common colds, and coughing etc."

Now when I research for these newsletters, I like to find at least 3 reliable sources which corroborate the information before I pass it on to you.  But I have to be honest, there isn’t a lot to go on as far as Umeboshi is concerned. 

What I do know is that Gillian McKeith certainly recommends the use of Umeboshi paste as a savoury flavouring which will help indigestion and aid digestion.   She says Umeboshi is,

"an easy-to-digest vegetable protein snack. It has an alkalising effect on the body, which is good for people who have eaten excess amounts of red meat."

And she includes it in a couple of recipes in her second book the You Are What You Eat Cookbook including one for Cherry Tomato and Artichoke Pasta with Avocado Dressing which, with its raw sauce, wheat-free pasta and alkalising tomatoes and avos, has to be one of the quickest, tastiest, healthiest suppers in the Universe.

News News News

Well, we're finally here.  Next Monday sees the launch of the new product I've been working on with Lucy-Ann Prideaux.  I'll email a note as soon as we're a-go-go so you can take a look.  We are very excited and keep telling eachother what a fantastic product we think we've created!  We're not being immodest, we're just so proud and looking forward to helping as many people as we can lose weight, get slim and stay slim - all without dieting.  Yee haa! Works for me.   Less than 1 year ago, I was somewhere between an 18 and a 22 (US 16 and 20) depending on which bit you were measuring.  Today, I'm a 14 (US 12) and I eat more than I've ever eaten! I hope to get to a 12 eventually and I believe it will happen in time.  Actually, I'm going to share some holiday pics of myself on the blog to show what's possible. 

Last week I asked you to submit your Holiday Challenge questions so I could make sure that I make your thank you gift is a goodie. We've had one or two, but since they are anonymous, I can't tell whether it was you or not. Our experts are likely to include a nutritionist, a hypnotherapist, an NLP coach and a couple of others.  More info and the link for your questions here.

'Til next week

Stay well, happy and healthy

Claire Raikes - Wellbeing Coach, Speaker and Writer
Telephone (24 hour) +44 20 84 85 86 16

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