When mental and emotional demands become physical pain (Part 4)

When mental and emotional demands become physical pain (Part 4)
Updated 20 May 2014

When mental and emotional demands become physical pain (Part 4)

When mental and emotional demands become physical pain (Part 4)

Last week, I finished explaining the different areas around the spine where pain and muscle spasm strike, resulting from mental and emotional stressors. I also started discussing the beneficial effects of a healthy nutrition in order to speed the recovery process. I spoke about the different healthy essential fatty acids (omega 3-6-9), which assist in healing along with lean proteins (fish, eggs…), whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Because there are other healthy lifestyles to practice for getting over the pain and muscle contractions, I shall continue with the discussion. Today, I shall talk about the important supplements that work simultaneously with healthy methods to help relieve your aches and pains.
When stress becomes chronic and the adrenal glands are depleted, supplements of specific nutrients, antioxidants, and herbs are required along with nutritious meals (mentioned in Part 3) to complement your healthy dietary intake. Stress exhausts certain nutrients and antioxidants, critical to health as well as the immune system. Here are the important ones to replace depletion caused by extended stressful conditions.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant for the adrenal glands. It is easily exhausted when stress hormones remain roaming in the body. Vitamin C’s antioxidant potency helps repair the adrenal glands as well as restore vitamin E after battling free radicals. By restoring the adrenals, vitamin K is also restored. C has yet another critical role. It converts cholesterol into hormones. Because it is an immune-booster, it protects against colds, flu, and infections.
Prolonged stress depletes this cleansing nutrient. The antioxidant is available in most whole fruits (kiwi, citrus fruits, berries, papaya, strawberries), vegetables (leafy greens, peppers, cruciferous family, tomatoes) and sprouts. With the use of chemicals and pesticides and long refrigeration periods of fruits, the vitamin can get degraded considerably. That is why vitamin C needs to be supplemented.
Magnesium is a critical mineral for the production of enzymes and energy to help the adrenal functions. Stress tends to raises the blood pressure, which in turn elevates the stress hormone cortisol in the system. Because the mineral has a calming effect on stress, relaxes the arteries to lower hypertension, and regulates the heartbeats, it is much needed in the body. Magnesium is also required for the uptake of other minerals like calcium to build bones. It is abundant in dark leafy vegetables, seaweed, beans, nuts, sesame seeds with their husk, and brown rice.
Calcium is also a calming mineral to stress. It should always be complemented by magnesium to relax the arteries and the nervous system as well as regulate the heartbeat. Calcium needs magnesium to keep the bones healthy and strong and prevent osteoporosis. Food sources of calcium are dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, seaweed, milk and cheese, preferably from goat and sheep if you have allergies.
Sodium is a mineral responsible for regulating the heartbeat in combination with magnesium, calcium, and potassium. The four minerals are called electrolytes. The heart needs electrolytes to function in a healthy way and to promote electrical signaling between cells. In small amounts, it helps retain water in the body to prevent dehydration, which causes the depletion of electrolytes.
What maintains a balance between sodium and potassium (the two go hand in hand) is a hormone called aldosterone, which is released by the adrenal glands for this purpose. When stress takes over, the glands get exhausted, thus aldosterone is not released sufficiently to maintain the body’s salt and potassium equilibrium. Low salt intake results in water loss, dehydration in the body, and a drop in blood pressure, but high salt intake results in water retention, a bigger load on the heart, triggering hypertension.
A dietary supplement of sodium comes from marine or rock salt, leafy greens, sea algae, celery, olives, pickles, spicy red peppers, squash, legumes, meat, fish, and others. Table salt is void of nutrients, because it is refined and does not contain the required minerals found in natural unrefined salts. Watch out for salt overconsumption, which can be equally threatening to the heart and health.
Other minerals such as zinc, manganese, chromium, iodine, selenium, and copper are also needed in small amounts to calm stress and the nervous system and boost immunity. Some of them act like antioxidants like selenium and zinc. They also counteract antibiotic resistance. Their best sources are the above-mentioned vegetables, especially seaweed (kelp, micro-algae), dark leafy greens (dandelion, spinach, parsley, wheat and oat grasses…), and sprouts (mung beans, lentils, alpha-alpha…) as well as nuts, seafood, and shellfish.
Vitamin B Complex (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, B17…) is important for the nervous and immune systems as well as the adrenal glands. The Bs keep stress under control. Vitamins B5 and B6 work to convert sugar into energy. Each one of the B vitamins has a different activity in the body and complements the other. With the help of the microflora (intestinal “good” bacteria), enzymes, and minerals, the Bs assist in making other important nutrients. Vitamins B are found in whole grains, legumes and their sprouts, eggs, yeast, miso, liver (B12), nuts, seeds, avocadoes, leafy greens (B9), and most foods. B Complex in supplement form is needed when the body is under stress.
Sprouts, dark leafy greens, dandelion, seaweed, and wheat and barley grasses are powerful detoxifiers, but there are others as well. Aromatic seeds (fennel, cumin, fenugreek, caraway, anize…), herbs (verbena, lemongrass, chamomile, rosemary…), and roots and spices (ginger, turmeric cinnamon, cloves, cardamom…) are effective cleansers and are excellent for flavoring food and making stress-lowering infusions. They are soothing and calming to the nerves as well as cleansing to the body. Turmeric is very potent on stress in powder form added to yogurt, soups, and gravies or as a supplement. It also sharpens the memory and mental faculties. All in controlled amounts are very potent detoxifiers and healing antioxidants.
Important phytochemicals and antioxidants to relieve muscle spasms from stress are found in the gum, which is called luban shihri, Boswellia, more known to the West as frankincense. Studies have shown its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal healer. In the Arabian Peninsula, the diluted gum in water is taken in small doses twice or three times daily on an empty stomach for treating respiratory (expectorant) and urinary tract infections and alleviating muscle pain and other symptoms of stress. Burning the gum kills airborne bacteria indoors and seems to shoo insects (mosquitos) away. I have seen its effectiveness on all the above health issues. It also comes in supplement form.
A diet rich in nutrient dense foods (omega 3-6-9, lean proteins, whole fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, aromatic seeds) will not only help replenish the adrenal glands and de-stress the body, but will also boost the immune system, restore health, and give energy, balance, and wellness. Remember, relief will come only if the recommended practices mentioned earlier are applied synergistically.
Next week, I will, Insha'Allah, give more pain and stress relieving techniques and talk about the importance of avoiding certain foods, drinks, desserts, and substances, which increase the load of stress on the immune system, organs, glands, and body. As much as it is necessary to take healing foods and herbs and practicing certain healthful techniques, it is also important to avoid certain so-called foods and soda drinks and toxic chemical substances, which will be discussed in Part 5.
References:
• The Most Dangerous Thing You’ll Do All Day, by Bill Philips and the Editors of Men’s Health
• Golf Digest Professional Adviser Ralph Simpson, physical therapist and former fitness trainer

N.B.:
Individuals with medical conditions or on medication should consult their physicians when they decide to introduce anything new in their diet even if it is natural.
The previous Health Solutions articles are located at www.arabnews.com

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Cairo welcomes arrival of the ‘true’ manousheh

Updated 03 December 2020

Cairo welcomes arrival of the ‘true’ manousheh

Cairo welcomes arrival of the ‘true’ manousheh
  • The Lebanese Bakery opens in the Egyptian capital

CAIRO: Any Cairene with a real love for Lebanese pastries can tell you how tough it is to find a freshly baked manousheh — made the authentic Lebanese way — here in Cairo. 

This is precisely why fans of this Lebanese breakfast pizza rejoiced when Beirut’s very own the Lebanese Bakery (TLB) finally opened in Egypt’s capital city last September. 

Located in the Maadi neighborhood, the branch — like all TLB outlets — was founded with the mission “to pay homage to the manousheh, to subtly enhance and modernize traditional recipes with creativity and attention to every bite,” according to TLB’s website. The bakery’s aim remains to “serve a delicious take on traditional manousheh and mouajjanet — the quintessential everyday Lebanese food.”

Halloumi and basil. Supplied

The options on the manousheh section of the menu include “From the Garden,” “Cheese,” “Meat,” and “All Day Breakfast.” TLB serves a selection of manoushehs with free-range eggs cooked sunny-side-up or paired with kashkawan cheese, sujuk, awarma or shakshuka sauce. There is also a section of salads, sides and kaak, and a vast selection of freshly baked mouajjanet and sweets. We were also impressed to find that you can select your own dough for your manousheh, with the options of whole wheat or multigrain. Besides the items on its well-curated menu, the bakery also sells its own condiments — including wild cucumber pickles, cocktail pickles and an eggplant makdous (pickled eggplant).

We visited the bakery on a cool Friday morning. It is located in a beautiful two-story building with both indoor and outdoor seating areas. We grabbed a cozy table outside to enjoy the November sun. 

Awarma and labneh. Supplied

We selected a labna wa joz side, ras asfour manousheh, zaatar and akkawi cheese manousheh, and an assortment of mouajjanet.

The food arrived promptly, and was served with a proper cappuccino (one of the best coffees I’ve had in Cairo and reason enough in itself to drop by for breakfast).

First to our table was labneh wa joz — a magnificent labneh, walnut and black olive side dish served with freshly baked bread. The tanginess of the labneh was brought out by the bitter taste of the olives, but it was the choice to include crunchy chopped walnuts that really elevated this dish, which could easily suffice as a breakfast item on its own.  

Next up was the zaatar and akkawi cheese manousheh (aka ‘nes-nes’ — or ‘half-and-half’); a ras asfour manousheh composed of diced beef, rocket leaves and pomegranate molasses and topped with fresh pomegranate; and finally, a hot-out-the-oven selection of mouajjanet. 

Rasa asfour. Supplied

The zaatar and akkawi cheese manousheh transported us back to our Beirut foodie trips — the sourness of the zaatar perfectly complemented by the saltiness of the akkawi cheese, with the manousheh crust striking just the right balance between thin and fluffy. 

As delicious as that was, however, our manousheh-of-the-year contender was the delicious ras asfour manousheh. From the juiciness of the beef and the hint of pungent sweetness created by the pomegranate molasses to the crunchiness of the rocket and pomegranate, this was the highlight of the meal. 

The mouajjanet selection was a hit too — both in terms of overall taste and baking quality. We sampled the thyme mouajjanet, spinach fatayer, cheese mini-pizzas, and small sfeehas. Straight out of the oven with just the right amount of filling, the mouajjanet complemented this hearty Lebanese breakfast perfectly. 

Muhammara and goat labneh. Supplied

Sadly though, we had no room left for any of TLB’s sweet pastries. The sweet manoushehs — carob molasses and tahini; Nutella; or Halawa with strawberry and pistachios — looked superb and we’ll definitely go back to try them some other time.

Cairo-based Manousheh fans who can’t make the trip out to Maadi can request delivery. There’s also a scheduled pick-up option if you’re in a hurry. 

Personally though, we’d highly recommend visiting the bakery on an early morning and enjoying your manoushehs in the cool breeze.