Lifestyle Works

Family Health

Working on your family togetherness will help keep your family not only happy but healthy too! This is partly attributable to the security of the family environment in giving a more stable emotional and mental platform but also a more regulated diet pattern.

A simple thing such as spending mealtime together leads to overall health benefits. The New York Times published an article stating that “research has shown that those who regularly have meals with their parents eat more fruits, vegetables and calcium-rich foods, ingest more vitamins and nutrients, and consume less junk food. Some of the research has shown that kids who regularly sit down to a family meal are at lower risk for behaviors like smoking and drug and alcohol use.”

The World Congress of Families (WCF) has drawn attention to the connection of the intact family unit with better health, economic, educational and employment outcomes. Dr Pat Fagan, a US-based WCF Management Committee member, says that there is a huge link between the economy and the family, and that the breakdown of a nation's family unit is a "recipe for bankruptcy".

Researchers surveying 835 youths in suburban Chicago and Beijing have found that youths who feel more responsible to their parents stay engaged in school and perform better.

The more supportive and stable family environment has also helped to prevent disease, while an abusive home has the opposite effects. Dr Stephen Ponder, writing at states, “As a provider of chronic care to children, I've been impressed with the positive role that a patient's home environment and family life plays in their health outcomes. A healthy family unit is an asset in combating a chronic health threat.”

“One of my guiding principles of high quality chronic health care delivery states that an intact, functioning family environment is associated with better health outcomes than in a broken or dysfunctional home... Adults abused as children have been shown to suffer greater rates of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression, substance abuse and early death.”

Comfrey For Fast Growth

Comfrey is a perennial herb with a black, turnip-like root and large, hairy broad leaves that bears small bell-shaped flowers of various colours.

The key constituent in comfrey is allantoin which encourages the growth of cells in both plants and humans. It's long been used in the natural health world to quickly regrow bones and even heal problems like torn ligaments. And in the garden, using some comfrey can boost the size of many plants and encourage lackluster plants to grow.

There are many ways to use comfrey in the garden – and of course the amount you'll need depends on the size and number of plants you have. An easy way to use comfrey in the garden is simply to use some dried, finely shredded leaves and soak them in water to make a tea. You can use half a cup of leaves or so per gallon of water – just let them sit for about 24 hours until it becomes a tea. Then, just water your plants with the tea and let the leaves fall around your plants too. You can water every few days or as desired - and smaller plants may just need a cup or so of the tea per watering, while larger plants can use a bit more. Generally, you'll start to see the difference in a month or so, with regular use.

Of course, comfrey can also be used on large farms, in place of chemical-based fertilizers. It's actually an ideal substitute - along with some basic composting - to add nutrients back into the soil. Comfrey teas have been shown to be comparable or richer in key nutrients for plants - like phosphorus and nitrogen - than manure or commercial liquid plant foods.

Comfrey also grows easily and it's mineral dense. In fact, it grows so easily that it's sometimes considered an invasive plant. However, for that reason, it's ideal for large farms because supply isn't an issue - and for smaller gardens it's best to grow it in large pots. Comfrey leaves can also be harvested every couple of weeks for an ongoing supply and a plant can be easily started from a root cutting.

There have also been concerns of excess use of comfrey as a liver toxin. The Australia New Zealand Food Authority had said people should have no more than one microgram of comfrey per kilogram of body weight in their daily diet.

~Sources: Wikipedia;, Kim Evans, 9 May 2011; Nelson Mail, 1 Jan 2010.

Recipe of the Month

Comfrey Fish

½ c wholemeal flour
½ c white flour
1t raising powder (opt)
½ t salt

½-1 c soy milk

1t stock powder (opt)
1t ground linseed mixed to a gel with 3 T water

Mix together well (except linseed mixture). Fold the linseed in (this is an egg replacer). Batter should be quite thick. Dip whole comfrey leaves into the batter and place them into a heated, lightly-oiled fry pan. Flip after a minute or two when the sides are slightly browned. They can alternatively be baked on an oven tray at 180°C for about 10-15mins.