It has been said that bad supplements are like a bad diet and I have to say I agree. Every day I get bombarded by supplement companies with products that promise to be the true elixir for a better life and increased health. The truth is that a good supplement should be supporting a busy lifestyle where someone already has a great diet and way of living.


The landscape of supplements is also changing and food supplements are becoming more important. This is because we are calorie laden and nutrient poor. The soil our crops are grown in can be deficient in essential minerals and nutrients and fast food has become a fast way to poor health.


Convenience is not convenient if it’s costing you your energy, vitality and essential lifeforce. As we now know nature provides us with everything we need the world of plant based food supplements becomes an area of interest and intrigue. The question is how do we harness the best that nature can provide?


For thousands of years mushrooms have been used in healing and medicines and they are being increasingly researched today to assess their importance and health benefits. There are edible, inedible, magic and poisonous mushrooms. Currently there are over 10,000 known types of mushrooms and scientists reckon about 2,000 of these are edible. Although that may seem like a lot, mycologists suspect that this is only a fraction of what’s out there!

For a long time now I have been using mushrooms for medicinal teas and supplementing with good quality supplements that I have found like shitake and reishi in my smoothies. Mushrooms have long been known to boost immunity and overall health. Some of the other benefits that you can expect include increased energy, improved muscle recovery, heart health, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and concentration or cognition. In trials many mushrooms also contain powerful ingredients that have been found to neutralize free radicals.

A new product that I am a proud Brand Ambassador for, Phytality, which means for ‘plants for life’ has a new product called Super Six. It contains six different active extracts from six different types of mushrooms. Each “vegan friendly” capsule contains 300mg of concentrated extracts from the mushrooms, God’s Mushroom (Agaricus brasiliensis), Maitake (Grifola frondosa), Cordyceps militaris, Shiitake (Lentinus edodes), Turkey tail (Trametes Versicolor) and Reishi- “Mushroom of Immortality” (Ganoderma lucidum).


All six of these mushrooms and their extracts have been used for 1000’s of years all over the world by traditional herbalists to promote and support good overall health and wellness. Also, within the past several years, these mushrooms have also been of great interest to many research scientists.


For example, in a 1995 study,* Reishi showed ‘the greatest antihepatotoxic activity and the greatest free radical scavenging activity.’ In other words it helps to reduce free radical activity. At high levels, free radicals damage various structures in your body’s cells. This cellular damage contributes to an increase in your risk for developing many health problems, including those related to aging. This is why decreasing or inactivating free radicals can lead to huge benefits for your health.Reishi is Known in China as the “spirit plant,” as it is believed to relax and fortify both mind and body.


In a 2012 study (2), Cordyceps have been shown to “improve the antioxidation activity in immunosuppressed mice (and to) significantly increase… total antioxidant capacity.”

The great news is that Cordyceps not only helps to neutralize harmful free radicals, it also enhances the activity of your body’s innate antioxidant systems.

Compounds from Cordyceps have been shown to help support balanced blood sugar levels. For example, a study (4) in the journal Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin found that a Cordyceps polysaccharide showed “potent hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) activity in genetic diabetic mice,” while “plasma glucose level was quickly reduced in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice.” The study also found that this same Cordyceps-sourced polysaccharide contributed to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.




Shiitake is probably one of the best-studied mushrooms in the world today. These mushrooms contain a polysaccharide known as Lentinan, (3) which Cancer Detection and Prevention Journal has described as “a unique class of immunopotentiator” that helps to improve the quality of life and extend survival.




Turkey tail contains a wide variety of phenol and flavonoid antioxidants which help promote your immune system health by reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds. In fact, one study (5) detected over 35 different phenolic compounds in a sample of turkey tail mushroom extract, along with the flavonoid antioxidants quercetin and baicalein. Reducing stress and inflammation is so important in today’s world. Let’s face it most of us are stressed even when we don’t even feel it.

The busyness epidemic means that our bodies need better support backed by science and research. We need to understand our needs better and a lot of plants have the intelligence to work synergistically with our bodies to help us navigate the modern world with greater ease and pleasure.


We don’t always have to fight life and battle with our health. Knowledge truly is power and when you begin to educate yourself about food and the plant world, you can begin to make smarter choices for yourself.


PHYTALITY Super Six stockists

  • Boots Ireland
  • Duggan’s Pharmacy , Renmore , Galway
  • Salthill Pharmacy , Salthill
  • Matt O Flaherty , William Street , Galway
  • Matt O Flaherty , Barna , Galway
  • Matt O Flaherty , Moycullen , Galway
  • Matt O Flaherty , Eyre Square , Galway
  • Matt O Flaherty , NUIG , Galway
  • Matt O Flaherty , Terryland , Galway



Post sponsored by Phytality 









In winter, our skin becomes easily dehydrated & tight due to the diverse temperatures it is exposed to. Outdoors, cold air, wind, rain & snow leave the skin feeling cold & can feel irritated, & indoors, heat rises drastically & the skin warms. These dramatic changes constantly throughout the winter causes our skin to lose moisture, especially with central heating & fires because the air dries out. In Ireland, many skins are predisposed to sensitivity so the capillaries can become easily irritated due to constantly dilating & constricting. This can also lead to broken capillaries, & rosecea is a common complaint for many. Linked with dehydration & sensitivity, a high percentage of Irish skins will also experience a dry skin condition such as dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis.

Taking all of these factors into account, it is vital to keep the skin well moisturised & protected throughout the winter so that little water is lost from the skin even in ever changing climates. This is where PHYT’S, 100% natural, organic & certified skin care, comes in. Because the PHYT’S range uses so little water in their products which only serves to dilute a cream, the ingredients are potent & active & the textures feel thicker so the end result is a penetrative cream with a protective function for the epidermis. The bases of all the moisturisers are composed of vegetables oils which are hydrating and nourishing vegetal oils for all skins. Some moisturisers contain Hyaluronic Acid which is a molecule that continuously attracts atmospheric moisture to the skin keeping it plump & comfortable. When the skin is well hydrated, the tissues are plump & therefore fine lines are less obvious. So one can see it is vital to keep the skin well moisturised to keep it hydrated, comfortable & young.

Sensitive & Reactive Skin

What is sensitivity?

• Complexion flushes easily
• Reactive / irritated topically by applications / environment / temperature / bodily processes
• High colouring with broken capillaries
• Delicate skin typically

How does it occur?

• Hereditary
• Neglect / abuse (poor skin care, harsh products / treatments, lifestyle, diet, alcohol, smoking)
• Celtic skins are often preconditioned (fine / more delicate tissues)
• Internal / External factors (medications, diet, supplements, inflammation, sun, wind, heat, cold, etc)

PHYT’S Organic Ingredients that soothe the capillaries of irritations & have anti-inflammatory effects:
• Argan Oil, Hemp Oil, Shea Butter, Chamomile, Ylang, Lavender, Howood, Palmarosa,
Mandarin, Sage, Lavender, Marjoram, St. John’s Wort

PHYT’S Organic Ingredients that stimulate the circulation & reduce visible redness
• Rosemary, Thyme, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Broom (Box Holly)

PHYT’S Organic Ingredients that reinforce capillaries & connective tissue
• Centella Asiatica, Horsetail, Cypress

PHYT’S Best Hydrating & Protective Moisturisers

Soin Riche Protect is a protective day moisturiser for dry & sensitive skins that react readily to external elements such as heat, cold, wind etc. As well a bathing the skin with hydration, this moisturiser keeps the skin shielded from reacting to irritants with Shea Butter, Castor Oil & Hazelnut. Rosemary reinforces the capillaries & keeps them comfortable while sage is healing & regenerative on the skin. 40g

Crème Hydra Riche is a Hyaluronic Acid based moisturiser to constantly attract atmospheric moisture to the skin & prevent water loss through external factors. After 1hr of application the epidermis is proven to have 60% more moisture in its cells. The skin is plumped & Aloe Vera reinforces this while also giving a feeling of firmness. Shea Butter & Almond oil are nourishing & regenerative. 40g

Soin Visage Nutrition Extreme is a PHYT’S top seller for a typical Irish skin: dry, sensitive, reactive. It’s fantastic to calm & soothe skin inflammations such as psoriasis & eczema, capillary problems like rosecea or simply or simply a reactive skin. It’s soothing & healing properties are down to Argan & Hemp oils, which are rich in Omega 6 & 3 in a balanced ratio. These are essential fatty acids which are vital to our cells health & functioning. Also highly nourishing with these oils plus Olive, Soybean & Shea Butter, Nutrition Extreme can be used for simply the driest of skins. 40g

SPF 50 & 30

It is important to protect the face in general from over exposure to UV but particularly when the skin is already aggravated by sensitivity issues: UVA & UVB will only cause further damage & deterioration to the already weakened capillaries. PHYT’S Sun Protection Factors are completely natural using a mineral contents of zinc and titanium to protect the skin from sun damage. These non-nano particles sit on the skin so that light is reflected away and heat does not build up from light. This effect also gives the skin a beautiful radiance and redness appears lesser. Enriched with Argan, Sunflower and Sesame, it is nourishing and moisturising so can be worn on its own or over a more specific moisturiser (moisturiser always goes on the skin first!)

Remember, no matter your type, treat your skin like silk… it is far more delicate than you think!

Mother nature has incredible healing and destressing powers. Nature creates an internal settling almost like a natural Valium in an otherwise synthetic world. We might have forgotten but our heart remembers. All she asks of you is that you spend time with her and when you do that she readily gives us her energy, all you need to do is receive. No matter what the season whether you are enjoying the sun, playing in the leaves or making snowmen. All connection with nature gives you a sense of comfort easing your worry and stress helping you to relax and think more clearly. In other words she teaches us to dance with life in a natural rhythm we all remember.


  1. “Nature tops the list of potent tranquilizers and stress reducers. The mere sound of running water has been shown to lower blood pressure.” Patch Adams


  1. When we spend time in nature our intuition comes alive and it evokes a feeling hard to describe in words. In Japanese they have a word for it: yugen. Yugen gives us a profound sense of the beauty and mystery of the universe.


  1. Do you work in an office or department store with bright lights? If so you need daylight and nature to help keep your immunity and circadian rhythm in balance. So go outside during your breaktimes.


  1. “Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated” Confucius

forest bathing, nature, connection, alison canavan

  1. In Japan they have a practice called Shinrin-Yoku. Shinrin means ‘forest’ and Yoku means ‘bath’. It means bathing in the forest atmosphere using all your senses, sight, sound, taste, smell and touch to tune into mother nature. Spending a minimum of 30 minutes in a forest has incredible health benefits.


  1. Biophilia hypothesis is the concept that humans have a biological need to connect with nature. American biologist E.O. Wilson said “We are hardwired to affiliate with the natural world- and just as our health improves when we are in it, so our health suffers when we are divorced from it.”


  1. Contact with nature is as vital to our wellbeing as regular diet and exercise!


  1. DIFFUSE ESSENTIAL OILS: A study at the Department of Psychiatry at Mie University in Japan, has shown that the citrus fragrance of the phytoncide (natural oils within a plant) D-limonene is more effective than antidepressants for lifting mood. Try diffusing essential oils in your own home or workplace to help with stress and energy levels. Lavender, lemon, orange, ylang ylang and bergamot are all wonderful to use.

Essential oils, alison canavan, naturels


  1. BREATHING IN MICROBES: There is a common and harmless bacteria in the soil that we breathe when walking in the forest which makes us feel happier called, Mycobacterium vaccae. Its benefits were discovered by Dr Mary O’Brien, an oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.


  1. When outside listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling through the trees

Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients — such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Children, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages.

So what’s the best formula to fuel your child’s growth and development?

Eating a healthy diet has many benefits for children.

It can:

  • Keep energy levels balanced
  • Improve their memory and concentration
  • Balance moods
  • Help maintain a healthy weight
  • Help prevent mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and ADHD.

Top Tips for Eating Healthy:

Eat Breakfast

It is important to encourage breakfast. A good night’s sleep followed by food in the morning helps your child to stay active and concentrate at school. It also means your child is less likely to be too hungry during the morning.

Up their Omega-3s

Studies show that taking an omega-3 supplement actually helps kids concentrate better in school, making it one of the smartest supplements your family can take. Omega-3 fatty acids are the most critical building blocks of the brain; they are considered essential and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Without these important fats, it can become difficult for children to concentrate, learn new information, and balance their moods properly.

To obtain omega-3, you can either eat 2 portions of oily fish per week (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring) or supplement with omega-3 fish oil daily. Surprisingly, an IPSOS/MRBI survey found that 89% of Irish people are not consuming sufficient oily fish in their diet, so there is often a need to supplement with a high-quality fish oil such as Eskimo-3 Kids.


Protein is the ultimate fill-me-up food – its more filling than carbohydrates or fats and keeps you feeling full for longer. Include protein at each meal to keep energy and concentration peakedAnimal proteins such as lean meat, fish, eggs, milk, yogurt and cheese contain all 9 essential amino acids and are considered the most important for growth. Plant proteins such as beans and pulses are incomplete proteins and need to be combined to achieve the full spectrum of amino acids. Aim to include fish twice a week, with one being an oily variety like salmon, trout or mackerel. Fresh, frozen or canned are fine but remember smoked and canned products tend to be higher in salt.

Choose Wholegrain

Choose wholegrain breads and pasta rich in fibre to keep energy up and blood sugar stable. Choose whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, oats), wholemeal bread and whole-wheat pasta.

Fruits and Vegetables 

Aiming for five portions of fruit and vegetables is a good starting point for children. The portion size depends on their age, size and physical activity – so there are no set rules. An easy guide is that a portion of fruit or veg is the amount that fits in the palm of your child’s hand. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit handy. Keep some vegetables such as sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots in the fridge to grab for a quick snack.


Eat regular meals

Eating every 3-4 hours, helps to prevent any dips in energy throughout the day.

Healthy snacks

Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and contain no fat, so they are a great choice for a snack between meals. Serve raw carrots, peppers or cucumber with hummus as a healthy snack. Other good snacks include low-fat yogurt, peanut butter and celery, or whole-grain crackers and cheese.

Keep hydrated

When dehydrated, the body and mind are dazed, restless. Children should be encouraged to drink plain water. Sweet drinks such as cordials or sweetened fruit juice are not needed for a healthy diet and aren’t recommended.

Weaknesses in the Modern Diet

  • The amount of sugar consumed by people has skyrocketed in the last 100 years. Most foods high in sugar are void of nutrients. Foods high in sugar are easily converted into glucose and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels.
  • Children consume more fizzy drinks, cordials and fruit juice than the previous generation.
  • There is a greater use of hydrogenated fats and trans fat laden margarines.
  • Modern wheat is less nutritious than older varieties of wheat.
  • People are eating more processed foods than ever before.

Foods to limit in your child’s diet

  • Added sugar. Limit added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit and milk, are not added sugars. Examples of added sugars include brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, honey and others.
  • Limit fizzy drinks, cordials and fruit juice – Drinks containing added sugars are not required for good health and may increase the risk of weight gain in children. Sugary drinks contribute to tooth erosion and decay.
  • Limit sugary cereals and breakfast bars – foods high in sugar can contribute to weight gain and poor energy and concentration in children. Avoid sugar laden muesli bars and breakfast bars. Offer healthier breakfast options such as overnight oats, porridge, pancakes made with oats and banana, berries and yoghurt, eggs with wholegrain toast.
  • Kids yoghurt – Yoghurt is a wonderful food for children, but child friendly yoghurts are usually high in artificial colours, flavourings and sweeteners. Instead Just buy the plain variety or Greek yoghurt and sweeten it with frozen fruit, raisins, or honey (for kids older than 1.)
  • Saturated and trans fats. Limit saturated fats — fats that mainly come from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Look for ways to replace saturated fats with vegetable and nut oils, which provide essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Healthier fats are also naturally present in olives, nuts, avocados and seafood. Limit trans fats by avoiding foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil.

This post has kindly been sponsored by Eskimo 3

Eskimo-3 Kids is a high strength omega-3.6.9 with vitamin D to support your child in school every day! Eskimo-3 Kids is available in your local health food store or pharmacy!


Trips to the doctor, antibiotics and a lot less money in my pocket now. As a parent in Ireland sometimes you literally can’t breathe without spending money. To top it off my friend in London who’s a working Mum of two proudly declared that her childcare is free and oh yeah so is the doctor. My mind wandered off to sandy beaches and cocktails when I dreamt of what I could do with all the extra money I would have each month if I lived anywhere else at all.

However I did decide to live here so my aim is to do everything to keep myself healthy and happy of course. James now sleeps in my bed all the time and if I were being honest I wouldn’t have it any other way. He wakes in the middle of the night and asks for a tug (hug) or a tuddle (cuddle) and my heart melts. I know this age won’t last forever so I’m trying to enjoy every minute. However life is not all plain sailing as James’ acting has improved dramatically. I asked my sister Laura who’s an actress had she been giving him secret lessons but she said no! He stands there pre fake tantrum trying with all his might to squeeze a tear out and then just as the tear breaks through he drops to the ground for the grand finale. I have learnt/chosen to ignore this at home but in the doctors I was shocked when this was coupled with “dut up!!” Excuse me I said trying to hold in the laughter from pure shock. When I asked him where he heard it he said Spongebob. I explained it was bold and made me feel sad. Now every few minutes James asks me am I sad and declares that he’s happy and wants me to be happy. I have reassured him I’m probably the happiest Mum in the world and have decided heck if I don’t feel it I’ll fake it. Anything for my little man and hey as the saying goes fake it till you feel it!!!


As mothers day approaches I love this Bia Beauty Mother & Baby gift set contains eye gel for a sleep-deprived new mum, a luxurious body butter that will diminish stretch marks and is perfect for a relaxing massage, and baby cream which can be used all over the body to soothe and comfort the little one and encourage sleep. €45 from and pharmacies nationwide.


Finally a vest that’s actually discreet for breastfeeding! Marianne Valiente, creator of Feed Me Mummy said “after the confidence issues I had with breastfeeding in public, when I came up with this vest I just had to share it with other Mums” I wish it had been 2 years ago!!



Hi Alison,

I was wondering if you ever used a sling with James. There’s so many to choose from and are they really worth it?


Angela, Cork


Hi Angela,

I tried so many slings and actually found them great. You need to find one that suits you. Its fantastic to keep them close and you also have your hands free.. Imagine! Check out They will lend you slings from all over the world till you figure out which one you like. Cherish me have also just introduced the Award-winning ERGObaby carrier. It’s really comfortable to wear and most importantly holds the baby in the correct position to support baby’s hip, pelvis, and spine growth. ERGOBABY keeps baby safe, close, and comfortable and allows you to enjoy your bonding experience with your baby and you can even be breast feed while babies in the carrier. Unlike many carriers on the market this one can be worn 3 ways on your front, hip or on your back and holds a child up to 20kg!






Get your body set for Summer with Total Body Lift, €46 by Clarins



SUPPORTING ARC Cancer Support Centre for their inaugural “Green Nose Day” on the 9th of March 2013. Green noses will be sold both inside and outside the Aviva Stadium for 2 EURO before the Ireland v France rugby match. ARC Cancer Support Centre provides support to people affected by cancer and their loved ones and they helped my family enormously when my own Dad was sick. WEARING Alex and Ani eco-friendly, positive energy stacking bracelets made with positive intentions. A perfect gift for new Mums. Choose Mom for generosity, heroism and love.