Natural Health: Olive oil

Q. I have read conflicting reports that olive oil.

Some say it’s good for your health, others say it can be damaging. Both sides seem to have convincing arguments. What is the truth?

A. The health benefits of olive oil first came to light when it was realised that people enjoying what is now called the Mediterranean diet, which utilises olive oil, were also enjoying long and healthy lives free of many diseases that affect most standard Western diets.

Unfortunately, when people discovered this, they immediately began using olive oil in everything they ate — rather than looking at the bigger picture.

The Mediterranean diet is also extremely high in fresh vegetables and fruits; taking the oil alone and not including the abundant produce was the first mistake. Another crucial piece of the puzzle is what is not in the Mediterranean diet — for example, processed and refined foods.

In short, both reports are correct. Olive oil, as part of a balanced, fresh, wholefoods diet is good for your health. Olive oil in addition to a highly processed diet, and used to excess, is not good for your health. Lifestyle is yet another important factor — with sunshine and laughter being key ingredients.

The type of olive oil, and the way in which you use it also needs to be taken into consideration. Organic Extra Virgin cold pressed olive oil should be used for maximum health benefits — and it is best when it is not heated. When frying food choose grapeseed oil or extra virgin coconut oil, both of which have much higher smoke points.

Scientific studies have shown olive oil to be effective against inflammation, it also contains phytonutrients that are effective against depression and breast cancer. Recently, it has been confirmed that it can improve heart health at a molecular level.

So, choose a high-quality olive oil, use it alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle, and remember that all good things are best enjoyed in moderation.

Q. Can you explain what Feldenkrais is? I recently met a man who was most enthusiastic about it, and took the time to explain it all to me, but I’m afraid I still don’t quite understand how it works. I would also like to know where I can find a practitioner.

A. The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984). It is very gentle, enabling you to release holding patterns and increase flexibility and coordination. By working at such a subtle level, your brain and nervous system are engaged to help change the way you relate to your body.

Feldenkrais benefits people of all ages and levels of mobility— from professional athletes to people with severe injury or disability. It is all about using minimum effort to achieve maximum efficiency. Or as Moshe Feldenkrais put it: “To make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy, elegant.”

In an ATM (Awareness Through Movement) group class, you are first assisted in gaining a sense of awareness of your body before being guided through a series of gentle floor-based movements to help re-integrate your movements. Your body organisation changes after performing the series of movements to help permanently improve posture, breathing, balance and co-ordination.

The FI (Functional Integration) individual sessions are aimed to meet specific needs where a practitioner uses his or her hands to guide your body through a series of subtle movements to provide sensory feedback regarding the way your body is moving.

* For more or to find a local Feldenkrais practitioner, visit online.


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