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Peer Educator Training Module 1
Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe MBChB FRIPH MISMA
Medical doctor, author & specialist in workplace wellness, peer educator training & stress management
Way to Wellness through Nutrition
Wellness Gardens


Nutrition: Also refer to ‘food story’ under Physiology 101 and nutrition under Stress Solutions

Food pyramid poster to illustrate to your group during your talk
Water – refer poster and DVD: ‘Messages from Water’ by Masaru Emoto

The basic food groups of carbohydrates (starches), fats and protein are broken down into its base molecules: carbohydrates into the simple sugar, glucose, used as ready source of energy, stored as glycogen in the liver, or fat for later energy consumption; fats into fatty acids and glycerol to be metabolised into glucose for energy, or assimilated again into fat as stored energy; and protein into amino acids that have many functions inside every cell and can also be utilised for energy. These nutrients are absorbed through the gut, assimilated in the liver and utilised by every cell for whatever its requirements are. There is a constant balance between energy generated from these base molecules (anabolism) and stored energy being released for cell utilisation (catabolism). Utilised energy has to be constantly replenished through the food we eat.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water every single day. Our brains consist of 75% water, our blood is 92% water, even our bones (skeleton) are 22% water and muscles, 75%. Our cells function in a saline lake of water. When we feel thirsty, we are actually already dehydrated. Always have water at hand: next to your bed at night, at your desk, bottled water in your car. In that way, it would be quite easy to get the required quantity every day. You can also substitute the water with the herbal tea mixtures discussed further on. Coffee and black tea do not count as water. They require water in order to be digested and metabolised.

Ailments and symptoms often associated with a lack of water:

  • dry, ageing skin
  • tiredness or exhaustion
  • tension, anxiety
  • poor digestion
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • back pain
  • low immunity
  • weight gain
  • accumulation of toxins inside the body
  • cellulite
  • urinary tract infections
  • kidney stones
  • slow thought processes
  • high blood pressure
  • poor circulation

Good nutrition balances the physiology. Correct nutrition reaches our spiritual essence. It is a good place from where to start to make us more aware of our minds, bodies, emotions and souls and the control we have over our own health. Eat wholesome food to support your metabolism. Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes every day to supply your body, mind and spirit with the support it needs for enzyme action that drives your biochemistry, with enough support from vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as co-factors and co-enzymes.

Try eating an average 7 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Take some fruit, cheese and wholewheat biscuits like pro vita, to work. If you have cooked veges, do not overcook it. Try for some variety in your daily diet with different types of food. Never skip meals – your blood sugar levels will drop and you will feel irritable, restless, with poor concentration – same symptoms as the stress response! Don’t snack on fast foods with high fat – it will make you feel lethargic for hours afterwards. A salad is a good way of combining a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. You could take it in a sandwich to work, when you go out to lunch, or have it as an evening meal. Try to increase the fibre content of your diet by including All Bran Flakes, digestive bran, wheat germ, nuts, oats, Wheat Bix or muesli in your breakfast.

Use food choices poster to the group when you do your talk

My wellness garden (Challenge for 2nd session!) – at work or at home

Use colourful vegetable, herb and fruit poster when presenting to your group

Plan your garden by selecting the fruit, vegetable, herb and bean seeds you want to plant and explain why you selected the specific ones. You can use the table below to guide your choices. If you have Internet access, go to for more information and ideas. Also use the magazines, books and lay out designs provided during your training.

Name Health benefits
Celery, cucumber, asparagus Helps body release trapped water (also called fluid retention) – duiretic, e.g. swollen ankles, rings fitting too tight on swollen fingers. Celery also helps for stress and high blood pressure.
Parsley Rich in nutrients that clear away toxins
Lettuce Diuretic and liver cleanser
Carrots Nutrients that support eyesight, heart and blood vessels
Onions, garlic, chives Nutrients protect heart, immune system (cancer, infections, HIV/Aids), lowers blood pressure & cholesterol, loosens mucous
Mint, peppermint Helps digestion, relieve tummy aches and abdominal cramps
Ginger Helps digestion, breaks up mucous (colds, sinusitis), anti-inflammatory for muscle & joint pain (arthritis), nausea, motion sickness
Turmeric Nutrients that are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, break up mucous
Cinnamon Nutrients that are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, break up mucous
Beans, chick peas, linseed, lentils Protect & support heart, male & female reproductive systems, immune system (cancer, infections, HIV/Aids)
Rosemary, thyme, basil Protect & support immune system (cancer, infections, HIV/Aids)
Pumpkin seeds Essential for male prostate & reproductive health
Tomatoes Essential for male sexual health, treatment of prostate enlargement
Lemon balm Drink as tea: calming, soothing, relaxing. Cleans, helps for indigestion, anxiety
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard Support immune system and help for cancer; lowers bad cholesterol
Green, red, yellow; grains, beans, nuts, seeds, ginseng, chamomile Protect all systems of body, especially heart, eyes, brain, immune system (cancer, infections, HIV/Aids), hormones, to block bad cholesterol
Red & purple: berries, grapes, cabbage, brinjals; green leafy; beans; green tea; herbs Protect heart & blood vessels, prevent colon cancer & tooth decay, modify hormone response
Fruit, mushrooms, yeast, herbs, spices Prevent harmful substances from causing cancer, promote normal bowel flora, modulate immune system, prevent colon cancer, block bad cholesterol
Dark green leafy veges, nuts, beans, plant oils, wheat germ, herbs Make blood more liquid, prevent blood clotting, help for inflammation, nervous system & immune system support, hormone balance, support cell membranes

Gauteng Area


Dec: Amaranth morog, bush & climbing beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, marrow, mealies, pumpkin, radish, squash, sweet corn.

Jan: Amaranth morog, bush beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, CM kale, lettuce, radish, Swiss chard spinach, turnip.

Feb: Beetroot, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, carrot, CM kale, kohlrabi, leaf mustard, leek, lettuce, radish, Swiss chard spinach, turnip.


Mar: Cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrot, kohlrabi, CM kale, leaf mustard, leek, lettuce, Lucerne, onion, parsley, radish, Swiss chard spinach, turnip.

Apr: Broad beans, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrot, kohlrabi, leaf mustard, leek, lettuce, Lucerne, onion, parsley, peas, radish, Swiss chard spinach.

May: Broad beans, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, leaf mustard, lettuce, Lucerne, onion, parsley, peas, radish.


Jun: Broad beans, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, peas and radish

July: Broad beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, peas, radish, turnip

Aug: Beetroot, brinjal, cabbage, carrot, chillies, cucumber, green pepper, kohlrabi, leaf mustard, leek, lettuce, Lucerne, mealies, parsley, radish, Swiss chard spinach, sweet corn, tomato, turnip


Sept: Bush & climbing beans, beetroot, brinjal, cabbage, carrot, chillies, cucumber, green pepper, kohlrabi, leaf mustard, leek, lettuce, Lucerne, marrows, mealies, parsley, pumpkin, radish, soup celery, Swiss chard spinach, squash, sweet corn, tomato, turnip.

Oct: Amaranth morog, bush & climbing beans, beetroot, brinjal, cabbage, carrot, chillies, cucumber, green pepper, leaf mustard, lettuce, marrow, mealies, New Zealand spinach, parsley, pumpkin, radish

Nov: Amaranth morog, bush & climbing beans, beetroot, cabbage, carrot, chillies, green pepper, leaf mustard, lettuce, marrows, mealies, New Zealand spinach, pumpkin, radish, soup celery, squash, sweet corn, tomato.

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