Black Seed Oil

What is black seed oil?

The black seed oil is extracted from the seeds of Nigella Sativa, a plant native to southwest Asia. It goes by many names including:

  • Black cumin seed oil
  • Kalonji oil
  • Nigella sativa oil

You may be familiar with the Nigella seed that you can find in the spice isle in your local supermarket. Nigella seeds are often used as a popular ingredient in middle eastern and Indian cuisine. The key part of the plant that you get all the benefits from is thymoquinone which has high antioxidant properties.

Black seed oil has been used for centuries in food, medicine and even cosmetics.

Nigella Sativa

The Taste

Black seed oil has a strong a bitter taste. To avoid this harsh taste, you can dilute with water, sugar or agave.

Where To Buy

You can purchase black seed oil in most health food stores. I bought mine on Amazon and I’m very impressed. As you can see in the link, I purchased the oil, but you can also but it in capsule form, lotions, makeup and all sorts of beauty products.

Black Seed Oil

Benefits of black seed oil

  • Weight loss

In many parts of the work black Nigella sativa seeds are used as traditional medicine for obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

An 8-week study conducted on obese people showed the individuals taking black seed oil had a reduced waist circumference, less body fat and overall weight loss.

  • Eczema, Acne and Psoriasis

Black seed oil has been shown to be just as effective as Benzoyl – a common medication for skin related diseases.

Black seed oil has been used since the times of Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. This was a secret remedy that gave her radiant skin.

  • Cancer

A study conducted on rats has shows that black seed oil can shrink tumors as well as protect tissues from radiation damage.

  • Infertility

Studies in both men and rats have shown to increase sperm count and increase speed at which the sperm can swim. Antioxidants in the black seed oil is likely responsible for protecting the sperm from damage.

  • Allergies

If you place tiny oil drops in the nose these daily this can assist with the cure to Hay Fever.

Side effects and risks

  • Slows Blood Clotting

Black seed oil can increase drowsiness, lower blood sugar and slow down blood clotting. If going for surgery, it is probably best to avoid black seed oil during this time as it may increase the risk of bleeding. Best advice would be to stop taking it at least two weeks prior to your surgery.

  • Prescription medication

Always check with a doctor if you are taking some form of medication as you never know if there could be a negative effect to you. Specifically watch out for beta-blockers and blood thinners.

  • Upset stomach

Too much black seed oil can cause the laxative effect. This can be very uncomfortable and can cause severe diarrhea. This can be avoided by taking a small dose.

Personal Experience:

I have been using black seed oil for a few weeks now. I only have a quarter if a cap full mixed with a shot of water. I take it as a shot at any time in the day (whenever I remember to do so). My aim was to take it every day, but I quickly reduced this, explanation to come.

I don’t suffer from skin issues so I cannot vouch for the acne and spot healing properties that it has as I have only taken it orally.

The reason I immediately stopped taking black seed oil every day is that is it is a natural laxative. If you have constipation this would be an excellent cure, however if you have no issues in this area please beware. As I am already vegan and eat lots of natural wholefoods, fruits and vegetables I already consume more than the recommended amount of fiber so adding a laxative on top is a dangerous game. Just be weary if you don’t want to spend most of your day on the toilet. I decided to cut down to consuming just 2-3 times a week and that works perfectly for me.

A couple of times I’ve felt like I may be coming down with a cold or sore throat. I took black seed oil that evening and woke up feeling completely back to normal. Normally if I feel like I’m coming down with something the next day I feel awful. Even if you don’t want to take it every day, I recommend having some stored away for emergencies. I think taking a cap full before sleeping simple helped boost my immune system to help fight any virus or infection.

black caraway seeds nigella sativa

Veganuary – living 6 days on a vegan diet

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Before everyone starts ranting and raving about what defines vegan, I am not living the complete vegan lifestyle which I know includes involves living a completely cruelty free lifestyle. I am purely testing out the health benefits from the vegan diet – food and drink only here.

As you can see from my blog, I am very into health and fitness and diet has always been very important to me. Saying that, I often indulge in meat, fish and dairy daily. In fact, I don’t think there are many days at all that I have been without all these food groups until now of course.

This has been a challenge and a bit of a shock to the system, but all is well so far and I’m even enjoying it.

First things first – essential preparation:

  • State of mind

You must be mentally ready to start this diet just as you do with any diet. They always say that starting something on a Monday or first of the month means it’s more likely that you will stick to it. I started on Saturday the 5th of January and enjoyed a Domino’s pizza on the 1st of Jan (don’t judge me).

  • Education

Before starting what some people might think of as an extreme diet, education is the key! I encourage you to read books, search the internet or pick up a magazine and understand what you are getting yourself into. Learn about the benefits to health and the environment and any negative impacts. There are some good documentaries on Netflix, I watched ‘What the Health’ and ‘Cowspiracy’.

  • The food shop

I decided I can’t go into this without having all the tools to help me. The last thing you want is to be starving and have nothing tasty that you can eat. This will just set you up to fail and you will immediately start eating what you were before or become ill.

I did my food shop in my local Tesco, now after speaking to other Vegans it is probably the worst choice in supermarket for vegan products. People keep recommending Sainsbury’s, so I’ll give that a go on my next shop.

What I bought:

  • Pomegranate
  • Red cabbage
  • Beet root
  • Tesco Free From Vegan Cheese
  • Jus-Rol vegan puff pastry
  • Linda McCartney 2 deep dish country pies
  • Strong Roots Spinach and Pumpkin Burgers
  • 5 Alpro Go On Mango Yogurt Alternative
  • Oat milk
  • Miso Soup

Total – Just under £20

The trick is to prepare your meals in advance. Know what you have in your cupboards and if you may need to pop to the shops before you get home. Make enough dinner so that you can take the left over for dinner the next day. As the world is learning more about veganism more places are accommodating for the diet. I have been able to find some lovely lunches to buy at work but that may be because I’m based in central London where you can find anything. Itsu is one of my faves with an extensive vegan range to choose from, and just to make it easier its about 20 meters from my office.

I made an absolutely delicious cauliflower tabbouleh, roast sweet  potato and spicy red kidney bean dish featured in the image below. Yum to mindful eating!

vegan dinner

If you love eating out and live in the London area check out vegan restaurant Mildred’s, they even have a bottomless brunch! Have a read of my review for more information.

Today is my 6th day as a vegan and I’m feeling fine and I can carry out the same activities as before.

Negatives

  • Bloated

Day 3 was the worst for me. I put on my gym leggings and I can honestly say I looked pregnant. I think it’s just due to my body getting used to me drinking triple the amount of water that I’m used to and 1 million vegetables. It’s a change to the body so I’m hoping over time this will go away and ill be back to normal. Many people say that they are less bloated, I guess this is just a great example of everyone being different and having a unique experience.

  • Tired

I was feeling very tired and lazy with no motivation to do anything. Now this could be to do with the change in diet, but you also must bear in mind that I have only just returned to work after almost two weeks of eating and doing nothing over Christmas. It could just as easily be the change in routine or both. As I read that the vegan diet can make you feel sluggish due to the lack of B vitamins found in meat I decided to buy a supplement. I went to Holland and Barrett’s and bought Nature’s Way ALIVE! B-complex. They are soft jell multi-vitamins including vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. They claim to help your energy release, boost vitamin C and reduce tiredness and fatigue. They taste like low sugar gummy bears and are of course vegan. I’ve been taking these for the last couple of days and I feel much better.

alive vegan b vitamin supplements

If you want to try the vegan diet I recommend stocking up on these. As mentioned, you can get them in Holland and Barrett’s for £14.99 and currently they have a sale buy 1 get one for 1 p – excellent deal.

If you don’t live close to Holland and Barrett, you can also find these on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

Positives

  • No cravings for meat

I can honestly say I have not once felt this dying need to eat any kind of meat. I do think about steak from time to time, but I never really ate it apart form when I went to a restaurant anyway. I now have the option to select things that I wouldn’t normally be interested in and learn many new recipes and flavours.

  • No stuffed feeling after a meal, even an extremely large one

Normally I don’t eat between the hours of 1 pm-8 pm as after lunch I don’t have a snack, I travel home from work and go straight to the gym. By the time I’ve showered and prepared for the next day its 8pm and dinner time. By this time, I am starving and eat a huge dinner of everything I can get my hands on. Usually after this I am stuffed! This very full feeling is something we are accustomed to and I didn’t even notice it until I had the absence of it. I’ve still been eating in the same pattern, but I suppose my food just digests easier and quicker.

  • Trying new recipes and foods

I find it so much fun browsing the supermarkets for unusual healthy products and finding ways to incorporate them into my diet. I love cooking and looking up new recipes, so it has been great for me so far. I’ve had the opportunity to book new restaurants – Tell Your Friends (blog post coming soon) and new recipe book – Joe Wicks Veggie Meals with Workouts. It’s all exciting stuff in the name of health.

  • Cheaper

6 days on and I still haven’t had to return to the supermarket. You can season vegetables just as you would meat, so you still get loads of variation. Vegetables are cheaper than meat in general which makes for a healthy, ethical and money saving lifestyle.

This week I’ve managed to burn 1700 calories in two gym sessions so as you can tell my fitness isn’t deteriorating. I still feel able to get enough energy together for a solid workout.

You can buy vegan products in all the supermarkets:

  • Tesco – increased range for Veganuary
  • Sainsburys – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Asda – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Morrisons – clearly labelling all its own brand products that are vegan
  • Waitrose – has a dedicated vegan section
  • Iceland – dedicated vegan freezer section
  • Marks and Spencer – increased range for Veganuary

 

You can sign up to receive a free meal plan from the official Veganuary site here – https://veganuary.com/

I recommend purchasing the Joe Wicks Vegetarian cook book and substituting any non-vegan products. You can buy that bye CLICKING HERE.

As you know from my other blog posts I highly recommend all the Joe Wicks range. It has really helped me with quick and easy recipes that cater for vegans. He also creates recipes where all the ingredients are easy to find in the local supermarket. If you’re looking for quick easy recipes and a bit of veggie inspiration, look no further.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy Veganuary as much as I am.

 

Insta @keziakco

xxx

Overcome fitness setbacks like the experts

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Let’s turn a fitness setback into a comeback

It’s impossible to give 100% 100% of the time. Don’t be too demanding on yourself, you need to give your mind and body time to rest and recuperate.

Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiasts suffer from setbacks. This is normal as you cant keep top of your game 24/7. So when you feel like you’re not doing as well as usual, don’t beat yourself up about.

Here are some top tips on preventing a set back before it happens:

  1. Too busy at work

No one loves a nap more than I do. That feeling when you get out of bed in the morning and you think ‘how much longer until I can get back in it’. The truth is you have enough time, you just need to make sure you make the time. Going to the gym is an excellent refresher away from work and boosts your health and immune system. You don’t want to work yourself into the ground as all you’ll end up doing is getting sick. When you’re sick you can’t work or exercise so you’re losing out on everything.

Best advice for this is to keep on top of your priorities and use the gym as ‘me time’. Fitness shouldn’t be considered a chore or some horrible extra job you have to attend to, it should be enjoyable. Try and change your image of maintaining your health and you will find more time for it – trust me.

  1. Lose all motivation to work out

I think this happens to everyone,  no matter how ‘fit an enthusiastic you may be we all have a down time. You can start to try and build up momentum by searching some motivational success stories on the internet or watching a motivational video. There are so many you can search via YouTube and Google. It just takes some time to search inside yourself for what you really want out of life and what you want to achieve in the now. For some people this can take a while and you need to mentally in the right place to start your fitness journey again. Just have faith, you will get there and you will achieve what you want to.

  1. Forgot you gym stuff or headphones

There is nothing worse than getting to the gym without your headphones – especially cardio. I’m not the biggest fan of cardio anyway so a minute on the treadmill feels like an hour anyway even with my music. There are some simple fixes to preventing this happening:

  1. You can pre pack and organise your gym stuff in advance. I prepare my things the evening before. When I go to work I put all my gym stuff in the back so I can go straight after work – nice and easy.
  2. You were in a rush or you pre packed and forgot your headphones – this happened to me once and I just avoided cardio. As there is music in the gym, it may not be as great listening to someone else’s ‘ top hits’ but it’s better than giving up.
  3. You forget all your gym stuff – go home and get it, this should teach you a lesson not to forget next time. NO EXCUSES.

headphones

  1. Bad weather

As mentioned in other categories below, just as you don’t need to go to the gym to work out, you also don’t need to exercise outside. Even if you can’t justify the expense of a gym membership each month you can still exercise effectively at home by using YouTube, work out DVD’s or doing your own thing. Please see my recommended YouTubers below in 7. Travel.

bad weather

  1. The gym is too expensive

Everyone has different commitments and what may be affordable to some is not to others. It is great that there are so many gyms and facilities offering a wide range of options to suit all needs. Gyms typically range from £100 per month to £15 per month, personal training sessions around £30 – £65 per hour, classes between £8 to £30 per class and the great outdoors for FREE.

So whether you have a spare £100 a month or nothing at all there really is no excuse. Here are some of my suggestions below:

Top end: £60 – £100 +

Mid range: £20 – £60

Free:

  • Your garden
  • The park
  • Your house
  1. The gym is too busy, all the machines I need are taken

This is one of the most frustrating. You’ve accomplished finding the motivation, you’ve accomplish getting ready and getting to the gym. You’re set on leg day or arm day, you get to the gym and it’s rammed. You get on the running machine to wait for the machine you need but no one’s getting off, you get frustrated and go home. Firstly, whatever you did in the gym in contributing to  your overall health and fitness so don’t feel bad if it wasn’t the same intensity as your normal one. However, you cannot use one bas experience as something to put you off returning. There are many ways round this. Some gyms offer an online system where you can see how many people are in the gym at one time, this allows you to avoid peak times. You can try various different times of day to avoid the peak after work rush. My favourite time to go is weekends, the gym is often fairly empty and I can access all the equipment easily.

Find a pattern that works for you and in no time you won’t be making these excuses any more.

  1. Travel

This is a tricky one as everyone deserves a break. I’m sure you didn’t book your luxury 5 star holiday to be stuck in the gym all day? Well I certainly didn’t but if you do a bit of pre planning you can make sure you don’t miss out completely.

I normally pack one or two exercise outfits and a resistance band. If possible pre plan by booking a hotel that has a gym within the vicinity. Try and make use of the outdoor facilities if you don’t have a gym. If you’re on a beach holiday go for an early morning job along the beach. Nothing like sand to tone those legs. Alternately, go for a swim in the pool or the sea. If you’re in the countryside go for a long hike or a run. If you’re in the snow mountains, ski, snow board or go for a long walk. Now if none of these options appeal, you still have no excuse as you can get onto YouTube and search – Hotel Room Workout. Some of my favourites are:

Now no one is suggesting you go every day of your holiday as I don’t think you would be able to call it a holiday then. It’s just good to go now and again to keep your body active and healthy. Then once you get back into the swing of things on your return, it won’t be such a shock to your body.

I hope at least on of these hints and tips gives you the inspiration you need to get back into focus and achieve your goal. Don’t give up.

Instagram @keziakco

xxx

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Meditation

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Meditation helps you to progress in having a healthy mind. People always focus on a healthy body but we often neglect our minds and this is without question the most important part of us to care for. How can we be healthy if our mind is not? How can we be successful and happy with a mistreated mind? Meditation encourages our minds to slow down to benefit the body and soul. Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts, just as you would retrain your body to look a certain way or to perform a certain activity.

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Many people practice meditation in order to increase awareness of yourself and surroundings and one of the most popular reasons is to reduce stress. We live such busy and stressful lives sometimes we forget to stop and take a moment of peace. Rather than being tangled up in the speed of life and all the negatives that come with it, take some time for yourself. Work on generating a positive mood and outlook, increase your self-discipline, become healthier, improve your sleep pattern and increase your pain tolerance.

meditation

Meditation is very popular and many celebrities regularly practise. Big fans are:

  • Madonna
  • Katy Perry
  • Russell Brand
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Paul McCartney
  • Nicole Kidman

The list above shows a few big stars who regularly practice meditation and regularly promote the benefits.

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My first experience of meditation – Gong Meditation:

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You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. I wore jeans and a top but most people wore sweatpants. To be honest I think next time I would choose something a bit more comfortable and you are supposed to feel relaxed. I suppose wear whatever you put on when you get home from work and want to chill out.

On arrival, you remove your shoes and enter the studio. The instructor had laid out all the pads, pillows and eye masks out and you were able to help yourself to blankets. As I had never been before I did not bring any additional blankets and pillows but you had the option to. I was surprised to see an older woman next to me had literally brought her whole bed with her – portable mattress included. Next time I may consider an additional pillow but nothing more was necessary as the mats were thick and blankets were available. I suggest checking with the class organiser to see what they provide prior to arrival.

I went to a gong meditation so this consists of someone playing a gong in the background as you meditate. It was very relaxing, you lie down, the instructor says a few words, and then you let your thoughts pass through your mind. In order to relax I started to think of positive things. It is hard, as you are not supposed to actively think but then I found myself thinking about not thinking. I guess this is something that takes time and much practise. On this occasion, I actually fell asleep and woke up 10 minutes before the class ended. I do not think you are supposed to do that and thank god, no one noticed. I was obviously able to relax due to falling asleep and after an hour, when the class came to an end I did feel very relaxed and rejuvenated.

I was quite close to the front as I got there early – I recommend doing this to receive the most benefit if you attend a gong meditation. It was very soothing listening to the sounds of the gong and the other instruments (not sure what else was there as my eyes were closed). I definitely heard a singing bowl as well. On occasion, I could hear the instructor walking around the room with the instruments, which created a nice effect. This provided the people at the back of the room a nice opportunity to hear the sounds clearer.  They could then receive the same experience as those at the front.

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I know there are many different types of meditation and I look forward to exploring them all in the future. I will share my experiences with you as and when I attend each class.

 

You can find classes local to you via meetup – https://www.meetup.com/

I went to a lovely class is Chesham local to me.

 

Now I have a couple of questions for you guys:

Can you recommend a specific type of meditation that I can explore next?

Can you recommend any meditation classes that are in the London are?

Appreciate your help 🙂

Instagram @Keziakco

xxx