5 Vegetables That Help Build Muscle


When you think of building muscles, vegetables are probably the last food group that comes to mind. A thick grass-fed steak, a couple of free-range eggs or even a whey protein shake … these are the types of foods that truly build muscles, right?

Yes, they certainly do … but they’re not the only ones. And if you’re overlooking veggies as part of your muscle-building arsenal, you could be missing out. Your muscles need vitamins, don’t they? And minerals? And antioxidants? Yes, yes, and yes … and where do you find such treasures?

You could take a multivitamin … but this wouldn’t even come close to the bounty that a plate of fresh vegetables provides. Do your muscles a favor and eat yours up with every meal, especially these proven winners when it comes to building muscle health and more.

  1. Spinach

Remember Popeye? Eating about one cup of spinach a day is beneficial for your fast-twitch muscles, according to research from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The natural nitrates in spinach promote higher levels of certain proteins in your body that may boost muscle contraction and strength.[i]


  1. Beets

Beets, like spinach, also supply your body with natural dietary nitrates that may support muscle weakness and allow your muscles to remain active.[ii] This is because the nitrates get converted into nitric oxide, which promotes vascular function and allows you to keep working your muscles, harder.[iii]

  1. Sweet Potatoes

Diets high in potassium-rich produce have an alkalizing effect that may help preserve muscle mass.[iv] As you age, metabolic acidosis tends to occur that triggers a muscle-wasting response. But those who ate the most potassium-rich diets maintained 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue compared to those with half the potassium intake. Sweet potatoes topped the list of potassium-rich veggies, but there are many others as well, like spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

  1. Peas

Peas, and pea protein supplements, are rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAA; leucine, isoleucine and valine) known to play an important role in muscle protein synthesis. Consume pea protein has been found to cause a greater increase in muscle thickness than a placebo, and a comparable increase to whey protein, when consumed along with a strength-training program.[v]

  1. Chlorella

Not quite a vegetable, chlorella is a green algae that’s available in powdered form, making it easy to add to smoothies. It’s widely known for its detoxifying properties, but it’s also a complete protein with cellular regenerating properties. Further, due to its unique content of antioxidants, it helps lower oxidative stress, which is involved in age-related muscle atrophy, such as sarcopenia. According to one study:[vi]


So get munching on those vegetables !!

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar


Vinegar has been in use since ancient times as a health remedy, cleaning agent and for many other purposes from household to science. Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the revered ancient father of medicine after whom the Hippocratic Oath was named, prescribed it for curing pleurisy, fever, ulcers, and constipation. [1] It was utilized throughout history in other societies as well; for example, the Egyptians are thought to have used it to kill bacteria and the Babylonians relied on it to preserve food and medicines.

Apple cider vinegar has the potential to balance pH levels in the human body. This process occurs because of the naturally-occurring acetic acid it contains. When PH levels are balanced, the body maintains an alkaline state which reduces the potential for disease, especially arthritis where this condition is exacerbated in acidic ph conditions. So taking apple cider vinegar in warm water can help to balance your ph and reduce the painful symptoms of arthritis. The acidic nature of apple cider vinegar may be too strong for some palates. For this reason, many people drink it with honey and lemon. Others prefer to add 1 Tablespoon to an 8-ounce glass of water.

In addition to the acetic and malic acid, apple cider vinegar also possesses a number of characteristic acids, vitamins, mineral salts and amino acids. These nutrients work together to make cider vinegar the effective health tonic it is today. Among the tonic’s active ingredients are soluble fiber in the form of pectin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, beta-carotene and lycopene. The compound also contains minerals such as sodium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.

With all of these nutrients and others, apple cider vinegar is effective for treating a wide range of conditions. Often used in conjunction with organic honey, cider vinegar has a range of useful applications including treating osteoporosis, weight loss, leg cramps and pain, upset stomach and sore throat. The liquid can also be used to alleviate sinus congestion, high blood pressure, arthritis and high cholesterol. The tonic is even effective for detoxing the body, stimulating thinking, reversing the aging process, regulating blood pressure and fighting infection.

Apple cider vinegar can be used effectively internally and externally. The vinegar is often used as an astringent or toner for treating a number of skin conditions. Other common ailments apple cider vinegar can treat include acne, sunburn, shingles, insect bites, dandruff, allergic reactions and vaginal infections.

A fermented juice made from crushed apples, apple cider vinegar contains high concentrations of acetic acid, B vitamins, vitamin C and a host of other nutrients. All of these nutrients together function in the body to treat sickness and alleviate illness. Among its treatment applications are diabetes, arthritis, sinus congestion, high blood pressure and several others. It is believed that apple cider vinegar alters the very way the digestive and circulatory systems function in a positive way, making them more effective. More than just a flavoring agent, apple cider vinegar is one of the most effective health tonics available today!

What Does Epsom Salt Do for Soreness?


Epsom salt is a popular treatment used for muscle soreness and other bodily aches and pains. According to the Epsom Salt Council, Epsom salt isn’t just folklore anymore as numerous studies show that Epsom salt is an effective over-the-counter remedy for treating a variety of conditions. Although Epsom salt is well-known for treating sore muscles, many people don’t understand the mechanism — or the potential — behind the therapy.

Significance of Sore Muscles

Muscle aches and pains can stem from a variety of causes. Medical conditions that commonly cause soreness in or around muscle tissue include rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and the seasonal cold or flu. Exercising and physical exertion can also cause muscle soreness. Those with bodily aches and pains can benefit from an Epsom salt compress or bath soak.

How it Works

Magnesium is a primary component of Epsom salt. It is a mineral that the body needs and, unlike other minerals, is absorbed through the skin as you soak in the bath. The mineral helps relax skeletal muscles by flushing lactic acid buildup in the muscles, which may occur during physical exertion, such as a vigorous workout. Magnesium also plays an important role in the absorption of vitamins in the body. It also helps regulate muscle and nerve function. All of these effects significantly influence muscle soreness, which also affects muscle stiffness.

How to use Epson salts?

Use 1 – 2 cups in a medium sized bathtub or half a cup in a footbath Sit back, relax and enjoy ~)


Nettles: Fabulous and Free!



Nettles are a free, wild, super-healthy food that is abundant at the moment. To go foraging is really rewarding and great fun for the whole family to do. Bring a pair of siccors/secatars, gloves and a bag for your harvest. Choose a location that is not close to heavy traffic/road and on land that has been sprayed with pesticides. A good place is near river banks….. nettles will have rich and high nutritive value due to flooding but no matter where you go if on private land always ask permission.

I might even ask the plant permission to pick it!!! And give thanks to it afterwards ~) two way respect

Traditionally 3 servings of nettles were consumed in May to cleanse the blood and to ward off colds & flu’s


Nettle (also known as Stinging Nettle) has been used for centuries to treat allergy symptoms, particularly hayfever which is the most common allergy problem. It contains biologically active compounds that reduce inflammation (inhibits cyclooxygenase – and – 5-lipoxygenase – derived reactions). In Germany today stinging nettle is sold as an herbal drug for prostate diseases and as a diuretic. It is a common ingredient in other herbal drugs produced in Germany for rheumatic complaints and inflammatory conditions (especially for the lower urinary tract and prostate). In the United States many remarkable healing properties are attributed to nettle and the leaf is utilized for different problems than the root. The leaf is used here as a diuretic, for arthritis, prostatitis, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and allergic rhinitis.


Nettle Soup – Recipe of the Week

This recipe is from Darina Allen’s Irish Traditional Cooking.


• 150g young nettles
• 50g butter
• 275g potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 100g onion, chopped
• 100g leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 litre good-quality chicken stock
• 125 ml cream or full-fat milk (optional)

To take the sting out of the nettles, place them in a heatproof bowl or a pot. Boil some water in the kettle, then pour it over the nettles. Allow them to sit for 30 seconds, then drain, allow to cool slightly and discard any stems. Roughly chop the leaves and set them aside.  Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot, ideally one with a tight-fitting lid, over a medium heat. Add in the chopped potatoes, onions and leeks and toss them in the butter until well coated. Season well.

Cover the pot and cook the vegetables over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender.  Add the chopped nettle leaves and simmer, uncovered, for just a few minutes more. Be careful not to overcook the soup at this point or the vegetables will discolour and will also lose their flavour. Liquidize the soup, then add the cream or milk, if using — check the consistency of the soup first, as you don’t want it to be too thin — and stir it through and reheat. Alternatively, you could just add a drizzle of cream to each bowl to garnish.  Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary

My Hot Tips for Arthritis

Ginger Tea


Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis, the most common forms being osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. The most common complaints include pain due to inflammation, stiff movement and fatigue. There is a very important piece to arthritis that is often over looked or not understood but having informed my patients and incorporated it into their daily living it has improved their quality of life enormously.


Balancing the ph in your body! Arthritis is triggered and exacerbated in an acidic environment which produces uric acid and our amazing and smart bodies push this sand like particles to the furest part of the body: feet, knees, hands and elbows in order to protect our vital organs. Our western diet of coffee, sugar, processed food, alcohol and stress are all acid producing and hence lead to chronic inflammation.

What you can do to help? There is a lot you can do to help and control the condition. First & foremost the diet plays a huge role. Encouraging an anti-inflammatory diet will reduce pain significantly. Have a clean, alkaline diet high in green leafy vegetables, oily fish and complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoe and Quinoa. Reduce coffee, meat, alcohol and processed food intake. Drink plenty of water to flush the body.

Now the hot tips.....

Natural inflammation remedies, like ginger tea or turmeric in curry, can reduce joint pain and inflammation.

Turmeric: The curcumin in turmeric contains potent anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce joint pain and swelling. Two long-term studies show that turmeric improves arthritis symptoms and reduces blood levels of inflammatory chemicals. Tip: the best way to take this is to mix half a teaspoon of turmeric with one tablespoon of natural yoghurt and take in the evening. If you suffer with reflux or sensitive to spicy foods …test a small amount first to see if you tolerate it. Definitely worth trying for the benefits!!

Ginger is another great addition to the diet to help ease pain and stimulate circulation. Add ginger to soups, stir fry’s or have ginger slices in hot water

Bromelain: Derived from pineapple, this enzyme fights the compounds that cause pain and inflammation. Bromelain may also break down proteins that hinder blood circulation and cause blood clots, which can help relieve pain

In chronic and painful arthritis extra assistance is needed and herbs are a perfect solution

South African native devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) has the support of tradition and several studies for decreasing arthritis symptoms.

Closer to home, willow (Salix spp.) has long been used to reduce pain and inflammation. The bark contains salicin, which our bodies can turn into salicylic acid, which laboratories can turn into acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). Preliminary research shows that concentrated extracts (providing 240 mg of salicin a day) offer moderate relief in osteoarthritis

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) contains capsaicin, which inhibits inflammation and interferes with pain transmission. Topical capsaicin-containing cream has been shown to decrease osteoarthritis pain. One of the concentrated ingredients in Liveeka’s Arthritis Relief Balm

Stronger preparations of herbs are available through consultation (see clinic page on our website) to address pain, inflammation and to improve flexibility and movement

Please seek advice with professional health care practitioners before taking herbs or supplements if you are currently on medications or diagnosed with any medical condition

And finally Exercise: get out and moving. This will get the circulation stimulated, activates good feel chemicals within the body and reduces pain both physically and emotionally. Choose activities that suit you & your condition for example swimming might be more suited to someone sensitive to impact exercises. But choose an activity you enjoy and have a little fun

Supportive websites:




Liveeka wins Award of Excellence in Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy awarded by CIT and IIMH

Medical herbalist Margaret Noonanusingherbs to get to the root of the problem

Herbal medicine has been used for thou-sands of years and yet most people still only use it as a last resort when everything else has failed. This is a mindset which medi-cal herbalist, Margaret Noonan is hoping to change with her new practice in Fermoy.
Originally from Bal-lyduff Upper, but living in Kilworth, Margaret explained that herbal medicine treats the prob-lem without all of the side effects, being safe and non-habit forming.“Herbs are effective and subtle without being intrusive,” she added.While there is now a course in herbal medi-cine in CIT, when Mar-garet was in college, that avenue wasn’t open to her. She studied analyti-cal and pharmaceutical chemistry, before work-ing in the blood analysis lab in CUH, going to Eng-land and then returned to college to study herbal medicine in 2005.“We were the first year of graduates in Ire-land and it was kind of monumental – it was a great honour to be at the cutting edge of herbal medicine revival here in Ireland. In 2005, it was as if herbal medicine picked me. I dropped everything and went back to col-lege full time,” Margaret revealed.


Even though herbal medicine is one of the oldest forms of treating people, it is still very much an emerging field in Ireland, while the UK would be about 15 years ahead.Margaret worked as a senior herbal pharma-cist in Lismore Clinic of Herbal Medicine and she has won awards in phar-macy and pharmacology, but going into business on her own was something she always wanted to do. Adding that working in the Bridge Clinic, Fermoy alongside Dr Keane adds great credibility to what she does and since she opened up in September, she has thankfully been very busy.However, she did say that many of her patients are coming to her as a last resort and she would like to see people being more open to the idea. “They are sceptical and they have tried every-thing else. So I just smile and say ‘give it a go’,” she said.She added that it is very rewarding when people come in to thank her, because their lives have changed for the better, thanks to herbal medicine.“I recognise that it is a leap coming to me, but herbal medicine shouldn’t be dismissed lightly, it works and it has been used for thousands of years and science today is proving that. 80% of the world’s medicine is herbal. I would like to see people coming in about problems they would nor-mally go to a doctor for.”She explained that the current health system is there to treat the people who are sick, whereas herbal medicine is pre-ventative and has a more holistic approach.Margaret told The Avondhu that a first con-sultation would last up to an hour and a half, includ-ing half an hour for the prescription formulation and dispensing.In that initial con-sultation, she would go through different aspects of a person’s life, looking at things like nutrition, exercise, sleep, values and beliefs, relationships and all things psycho spiritual.“Our premise is that of a healthier lifestyle over-all,” Margaret said. She added that people also have to work at changing the way they live, as it is often a combination of factors which are aggra-vating or causing a condi-tion or illness.


“If a person comes in, it’s not a case of a quick fix – they’re not going to take a pill that will fix everything. They have to take time to develop new patterns. I go backwards and look for the causes behind the symptoms.“It’s a life change and it won’t happen in a few weeks. The patient will get relief in a few weeks, but I want to empower them to look at them-selves and take control of their lives.“I would never pro-mote the idea that people come off their medica-tion, but I give the patient information and scien-tific evidence so that they can make an informed choice.”While the herbs all work on a very practical level, through the interac-tion of chemicals, Mar-garet explains that like most things, it does help if people are honest and open, as she is there to help, not to judge.“It does help if the person is open minded and positive, but the herbs work in a very chemical and physical way through the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of plant chemicals.”She added that work-ing with herbs is very scientific and she loves matching the chemical constituents of a herbal medicine to a particular patient. “Each herbal medi-cine has specific family groups of chemicals and they would take a spe-cific action on the body. If two people come in with migraines, they will go out with very different herbs. You treat the per-son, not the disease and the treatment is very spe-cific to the individual,” she said.


Margaret also stressed that herbal treatment is very affordable. “I don’t want people holding back because they can’t afford the treatment, so I make it accessible. I would prescribe supplements sometimes as well, but I promote health through food.”Some of the most common things that Margaret would treat include digestive upsets, migraines, anxi-ety, depression, arthritis, sleep disturbances, skin problems, infections, menopause, stress and hormonal, immune and endocrine disorders, among other things