5 Natural ways to combat Hay fever

Hay fever is common in the UK as it affects around 1 in 5 people at some stage in their lives. The latest survey from Allergy UK shows that allergies including hay fever are currently on the rise with up to 30 -35 % of people being affected at some stage in their lives.
Hay fever symptoms or seasonal allergies usually occur from late March to October depending on the particular allergen we suffer from. Tree pollen is released during spring; grass pollen is released towards the end of spring and the beginning of summer while weed pollen is released in late autumn. Many can suffer from more than one type of pollen allergen, and may therefore suffer from hay fever for the whole season. During those particular months, the weather is warm, humid and windy and this is when pollen count is at its highest.
Symptoms occur due to a release of a chemical mediator known as ‘Histamine’ by the immune system in response to the substance or stimuli the body is allergic to. They may range from being a nuisance, to a real disruption during an otherwise normal day. Symptoms include but are not limited to:
• Sneezing
• Coughing
• Runny/Blocked nose
• Red/Watery /Itchy eyes
• Puffy eyes associated with a swelling of the nasal membrane (the membranes around the nose)
• Loss of Smell
• Pain around the Forehead
• Post Nasal Drip (caused by an excessive amount of mucus accumulated in the throat or back of the nose)
Supporting your body’s natural defences is important not simply during hay fever season but all year round. A healthy body is dependent on a strong immune system which is very much affected by a healthy gut and general lifestyle factors. It is also well researched that those who experience seasonal allergies are classified under the broad medical category of being ‘atopic’. In other words, they have a predisposition towards developing certain allergic hypersensitivity reactions.
The simple dietary and lifestyle measures listed below can support our sensitivity to allergens and similarly support our defences against flare ups from conditions like asthma or eczema

5 Natural Ways to combat Hay Fever

1. Fix your diet with Antioxidants
Fruits, herbs and vegetables are naturally high in antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Specific plant antioxidants like carotenoids, polyphenols and bioflavonoids are known to support the immune system. Latest research has also been focussing on the immune supporting benefits from another group of plant compounds referred to as ‘anthocyanins’. They provide a punchy red-purple colour to fruit and vegetables like elderberry, purple corn, purple cabbage, beetroot, pomegranate, purple potato or goji berries. They can be purchased whole and added to your dishes or some bought in concentrated powders that can be added to smoothies or your breakfast bowl. Spread your servings throughout the day with the aim of reaching a total of 10 servings.

2. Modify the Histamine production
Removing refined sugars from the diet may help, as research finds that refined sugars found in table sugar, cakes, candy and so on cause a blood sugar spike and can activate the release of histamine in the blood stream. Cut down on coffee, as caffeine also contributes to a release in histamine which can make your symptoms worst and cause skin irritations. Sugar is classified as an ‘immuno-suppressant’ so give time for your immune system to work properly by cutting those down. Watch out for fruits and dried fruits naturally high in sugar as well such as figs or prunes. Alcohol will also contribute to a blood sugar spike so keep that in mind.

3. Support your Digestive Health
Top up on those foods that support bacterial growth or contribute to it in a positive way. Fibre in the forms of wholegrains, legumes, oats, fruits and leafy greens. In addition to fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombu, wakame or nori. Avoid processed foods which knock our essential nutrients from our gut. Try out chicory which is naturally high in ‘inulin’, a prebiotic that is great for a healthy gut. A healthy gut will support a healthy immune system

4. Eliminate Stress
Stress zaps out our vitamin C levels whilst also impacting on our immune system and we all know that when we are then under attack from allergens, we will be too weak to fight back. Symptoms of hay fever or other allergies may then be worst or take forever to disappear. So make sure you sleep about 8 hours a day, choose stress reducing activities such as walking, pilates, or simply reading a book and find time to take care of yourself and be with your loved ones. When under less stress, the body can naturally better manage inflammatory reactions. Work out your balance between work and life and adjust where needed by being more efficient with your day.

5. Supplement
If you still struggle, supplement with a good B vitamin. B6 in particular helps to control the histamine production. Nettle herbal extract on a daily basis can also help to support our reaction to allergens. Zinc found in meat, seafood, nuts and seeds are found to help stop the production of histamine from specific cells in the body. Supplement if you still struggle with 10 to 15mg of zinc citrate daily. Chamomile is useful in reduced sore and itchy eyes, by soaking two pads of cotton wool in a chamomile infusion and place on the eyelids for about 10 minutes. Bromelain is a natural digestive enzyme found in pineapple and also found as supplements. It has shown to reduce breathing difficulties experienced and the inflammation in the airways by 85 % in clinical studies. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to reduce the inflammation in the nasal passages and ease the symptoms. Last but not least, Vitamin C is also a potent immune-stimulant and anti-inflammatory supplement

Benefits of Green Tea

Green Tea is originated from China and is extensively cultivated in Asia and certain Central African countries. The tea has since become so popular in the western countries and is nearly classified as a super food. Why? Well it possesses a natural compound known as Catechins, found in high concentrations in several plant products

Catechins found in Green Tea are responsible for many of its incredible benefits

• Green tea contributes to oral hygiene in several ways. It contributes to a reduction in dental plaque and helps protect the teeth and gums with its content of fluoride and tannins.

• The consumption of green tea helps to support the body’s natural defences against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Catechins have been found to help protect the health of female breasts and of our reproductive organs (ovaries, prostate).

• Catechins contribute to normalising cholesterol levels and help to maintain healthy heart function. This can help when consumed as part of healthy balanced lifestyle and varied diet.

• Green tea’s relationship with weight management has been cropping up in the news lately and there is a greater interest in its potential use! Of course, we cannot solely rely on this when attempting to lose weight. A change in lifestyle, nutrition and diet are also important. Catechins properties include fat metabolism (break down of fat cells) and a rise in metabolic rate (helping us to convert food consumed to energy at a higher rate instead of being accumulated in fat cells)

• Contribute to the healthy ageing of the skin. This is because Catechins help maintain intact cell DNA when exposed to UV sunlight. Green tea also showed other positive results on the skin. A randomised, twelve week study done on 60 participants, compared the daily consumption of a litre of Green Tea to placebo. In those who consumed the Green Tea, they found a decrease in volume, roughness and scaling of the skin but also an increase in skin hydration and skin density. Applying sun protection cream is still required though !

• Catechins in Green Tea are involved with the metabolism of glucose in the body. It is important for our blood glucose levels to remain stable for several health reasons. When they are too high, we can be at risk of suffering from diabetes or raised inflammation levels in the body. High inflammation levels can lead to changes in blood pressure and kidney health to name a few.

• Help protect the eyes from oxidative stress, caused by harmful radicals. Research shows that the components of the eye (retina, cornea, lens and other eye tissues) absorb the protective effects from Green Tea. Another study showed that Catechins protected against UV light, This suggests its important role besides other factors, in maintaining healthy eyes and vision.

You may benefit from the properties of Green Tea, through the consumption of the tea itself, but also through its extracts used in supplements.

References
Heinrich U et al. Green tea Polyphenols Provide Photoprotection, Increase Microcirculation, and Modulate Skin Properties of Women. J Nutr 2011; 141: 1202-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.136465

Ultimate facts about Omegas

essentialfatsOmega 3 Fats are essential fatty acids required for health and are required by the body to make anti-inflammatory hormones, known as the prostaglandin series 3. There are 2 ways to obtain Omega 3 in your diet. Plant sources of Omega-3, come from Alpha-Linoleic acid (ALA) which the body then converts to DHA and EPA, before use. It is important to note that we need a consume a considerable amount of dietary sources of ALA, as about 90% of us are poor at converting ALA into the required EPA and DHA. The benefit to consuming animal derived sources of Omega 3, is that the body can then immediately utilise the forms of EPA and DHA.

Omega 3 is valuable to health and should be consumed every day. Examples of food sources include oily fish such as mackerel (1422mg DHA/EPA per 100g) and salmon (2018mg DHA/EPA per 100g). For vegetarians and vegans: plant algae like Spirulina contain fair amounts of ALA, depending on the source and brand, herbs (Oregano-4180mg ALA per 100g); nuts (Walnuts -2006 mg ALA per 100g); seeds (Chia Seeds -17552mg ALA per 100g). Don’t forget your nut and seed derived products to top up your intakes (milks, butters, oils). In order for you to obtain most health benefits, the quality and dietary sources are very important and not always easy to adhere to: due to costs, geographical location, and environmental pollutants amongst others. Hence a supplement may be useful!But to choose the best one for you , always get in touch with an expert.

Omega 3 benefits are numerous, but here are my top 5

  • A contribution to normal blood cholesterol levels (ALA), EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart, and normal blood pressure. EPA and DHA have shown to contribute to normal blood triglyceride levels, when having an intake of over 2 g of EPA/DHA. Triglycerides are fats which are associated with heart disease when present in high levels.
  • Omega 3 is particularly vital for the health of mothers and children. DHA when consumed by the mother contributes to the normal brain and eye development of the foetus and breastfed infants. Essential fatty acids are needed for normal growth and development of children.
  • DHA is needed for normal brain function and vision. Research shows that DHA is important for the formation of the cellular membranes of nerve cells . Ongoing and exciting research is being done on DHA’s involvement in neurodegenerative disorders, so keep up with my blog for updates! DHA is found in the highest concentrations in the retina of the eye. The National Eye Institute is currently looking into whether Omega 3 supplements along with others can help with particular eye conditions.
  • Omega 3 fats are needed to absorb important nutrients such as the fat soluble vitamins, A, D E and K. These vitamins also provide health benefits as part of a varied diet.
  • Omega 3 fats are needed for the production of ‘eicosanoids’, which are signalling molecules involved with healing and repair processes in the body. Several studies have shown the benefits of omega 3 in reducing the effects of the mediators involved in inflammation. Dry eye syndrome has been found to have an inflammatory component, and could possibly benefit from omega 3 supplements.

 

References:

Gerster H. (1998) Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)? Int J Vitam Nutr Res; 68:159-73.

Lui,A. and Ji, J. (2014). Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids Therapy for Dry Eye Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4165511/ [Accessed on 18.12.2015]

Lee, YH. Bae, SC. And Song, GG. (2012) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22835600 [Accessed on 18.12.2015]

AREDS2 Research Group (2013).Lutein/Zeaxanthin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial. Available from: https://nei.nih.gov/ [Accessed on 18.12.2015]

 

Beat the bloat for a flatter stomach.

Comments written for Byrdie Magazine on the following foods and their impact on a flatter stomach?

There is so much literature out there on how we can have a flatter stomach. Is it through solely exercise, water intake, a nutritious diet , hormonal changes, or are there certain foods that we eat that make us feel incredibly uncomfortable. Us, women often experience a lot of bloating and  the factors that can influence it are wide ranging. I was asked to write a few comments for an online magazine, Byrdie about whether these foods could have an impact on our stomachs and its distension. Can we beat the bloat for a flatter stomach with those ?This is the first part of 2 blogs i will be uploading.

Oats
Loving porridge oats? Well you should definitely keep up with it, if achieving a flat stomach is one of your health goals. Oats are packed with a form of soluble dietary fibre; ‘beta glucans’ which support healthy digestion and regular bowel movements with the excretion of dietary waste and toxins. These help prevent the bloat. Beta -glucans supports a reduction in the rise in blood glucose levels that occurs after meals. By keeping blood glucose levels stable, we feel fuller for longer and experience fewer of those nagging sweet cravings. This effect can help us lose our belly as part of a nutritious diet and active lifestyle. Jazz up your oats with goji berries, cinnamon, almond milk, and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.

Garlic

Garlic is a world-renowned cure-all highly espoused as a home remedy in practically every culture. Studies conducted on animals so far, show that garlic may help in lowering blood glucose levels and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetics, which could help to better manage your weight. However, further research in the field must be carried out on its effect on weight in humans. Garlic’s active compound, ‘allium sativum’ has carminative properties; providing relief for excess flatulence and abdominal distension. A healthy body also relies on a healthy gut, which garlic can help support, being anti-microbial in nature. The latter properties may help to achieve a flatter stomach.

Fennel

We ought to use fennel in our goal in achieving a flatter stomach. This Mediterranean root vegetable has a pleasing licorice and aniseedy aroma with wide- ranging health benefits. Fennel seeds in particular are well known for their essential oils which support the body in absorbing nutrients present in food .They do so by stimulating the secretion of both digestive and gastric juices. Fennel’s carminative properties come from the active ingredient, ‘fenchone’ found in its seeds. Fenchone acts by relaxing the digestive’s tract smooth muscle lining and has long been known to provide relief from bloating, flatulence and indigestion. Its cleansing property is perfect to help flush out excess toxins. Latest research confirms the benefits of consuming fennel tea to help keep hunger at bay .Chew your fennel seeds after meals, use its leaves in your quinoa salads and don’t forget to sip on Heath and Heather’s fennel tea!

Chilli

Chillies don’t only add flavour and spice to our food but support the body’s metabolism through thermogenesis; our ability to produce heat to burn off fat and therefore excess calories. Chillies’ active components ‘capsicum annum’ and ‘capsaicin’, should be your ingredient of choice to help shift that stubborn layer of fat around the middle. Some studies show that chilli peppers cause an immediate increase in metabolic rate to 20% within thirty minutes of consuming a spicy chilli containing meal. Packed with Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect our cells from free radical damage and support the normal production of collagen so is perfect in maintaining our youthful skins !

Asparagus

A luxury vegetable packed with fibre which supports healthy digestion and is particularly low in calories making it a great snack. It has natural diuretic properties so alleviating water retention and minimising the bloat. Asparagus are packed with ‘diosgenin’, a type of saponin (natural plant chemical), shown to support blood sugar level management and better control of the levels of fat .In addition, asparagus also contain ‘inulin’, supporting healthy gut bacteria. All these factors can help to achieve a flatter stomach.

References :

Ahuja, K. et al. (2006). Effects of chilli consumption on postprandial glucose, insulin, and energy metabolism. American Clinical Journal of Nutrition [Pub Med] online .Accessed at: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/1/63.long

Bae, J. et al.(2015) .Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) Tea Drinking Suppresses Subjective Short-term Appetite in Overweight Women. Clinical Nutrition Research [PubMed] online. Accessed at :http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4525133/

Clegg, M. E ; Golsorkhi, M. and Henry, C.J. (2013) .Combined medium-chain triglyceride and chilli feeding increases diet-induced thermogenesis in normal-weight humans. European Journal of Nutrition [online] .Accessed on: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-012-0463-9#page-1

El Khoury, D.et. al ( 2012) . Beta Glucan: Health Benefits in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. [Pub Med] online . Accessed on: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3236515/

Padiya, R. et al. (2011) Garlic improves insulin sensitivity and associated metabolic syndromes in fructose fed rats. Nutrition and Metabolism . [PubMed] online .Accessed on http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168415/

Tierra, M. (1998).The Way of Herbs. Published by Pocket Books, New York.

New Year 2016 : Health and Wellbeing -small steps towards a bigger goal

It’s a New Year, and we’re now into the third week of January 2016 !
So why not focus on your Health and Wellbeing? But where do we start? This is my first of a series of posts that will intend to potentially share useful information with you!

It is true that we often ‘try’ to start afresh on the 1st week of January every year. Our well-intended resolutions commonly include: exercise more, eat less sugar and junk, cut down on alcohol and caffeine, stop smoking and finally try that quinoa or matcha tea! Do we always succeed? Some do, in the short term but a lot of us cannot sustain these changes. How about changing your approach?” “ Instead of setting a date as a springboard and let the calendar do the rest”, set yourself SMART goals (specific measurable achievable realistic and time-bound). (Rose, J.)

Busy schedules often mean we have no time to pack lunches or healthy nibbles. Healthy snacks on the go that you could try !!: Kale crisps by Inspiral, Squirrel Sisters Bars, Ape Coconut Curls, Tamari Roasted Pumpkin Seeds by ClearSpring, GoMarcro by Macrobar.

What about exercise ? The gym and the same routine gets boring in the long run. These are a few locations in London that you can think of.

Exercise venues to try: Bouldering at the Urban Ascent (Parsons green), Boxfit at Frame (several locations), Dance classes at the Dance Attic (Fulham), Spinning at Psycle (Mortimer street/Canary Wharf), but also locally Ride Republic (Fulham).Ever heard of TruBe ? It’s a fitness app which brings the fitness session and the trainer to you.

Eateries to try ? These are not necessarily new, but offer you healthy options in London

Healthy eats to try: Ethos (Central London), The Good Life Eatery (Chelsea), Clifton Nurseries Café (Maida Vale), The Putney Canteen (Putney), Sticks and Sushi (Wimbledon or Central London),

Anything else?
Focus on your core, to support your back, improve your posture and the strength of your abdominals. Kibar, S. et al (2015)
.Examples include : Plank with an arm lift, Lateral Pillar Bridge and a Glute Bridge. Learnt some of those from Charlotte, an excellent pilates teacher now based in southfields!(Pilates by PT , find her on facebook!)

Book in for an appointment with me, to help you set your goals and make sustainable changes geared to your health and work/life balance.

Further information & inspiration on www.nutriaffairs.com.
Follow us on Instagram and Facebook

Ps:I am sorry to have been rather absent in writing new posts, but with a new role as a technical nutritionist, a holiday away, Christmas celebrations, and seeing clients, I found it tricky to keep up.

References
Rose, James (2015) therapist and performance coach. .www.cognitivedirection.com
Kibar , S. et al . (2015) :Is pilates exercise program effective on balance, flexibility and muscle endurance? Randomized, controlled study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26473443.

Healthy skin starts from within

A diet that is healthy and well balanced will help support the functioning of our organs and metabolic processes that occur in the body, but also help nourish our skin inside and out.

Where specific skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, fungal skin rashes are concerned, I always aim to look at the root cause of the problem. Imbalances in hormones, immunity, digestion or inflammation often contribute to such skin concerns. The skin’s natural demand for nutrients is also increased when put under stress (for example: excessive inflammation of the skin requires further nutrients such as folic acid and protein).

Topical treatment is often not enough but targeted and individual support in your skincare routine, nutrition and overall wellbeing is required.

When necessary, I  recommend supplements that can either help support your skin and body’s defence mechanisms, speed up the healing process or help promote a glowing and youthful appearance

How can nutrition help ?

  • Support a poorly functioning digestion
  • Support collagen production
  • Identify allergies, intolerances and deficiencies
  • Prevent and slow down skin damage, leading to ageing
  • Support imbalances in hormones
  • Reduce the presence of underlying inflammation
  • Speed the healing process (for example :cold sores can be prevented and healed with a particular amino acid(building block of protein))

How can nutritional deficiencies affect the skin?

  • Lack of antioxidants (A, C, E) can affect the skin’s protection against the damaging UV rays.
  • Vitamin A deficiency can result in a disorder of the cells lining the inside of a hair follicle (aka hyperkeratinisation).This is turn can result in a reduction in sebaceous glands and also block our sweat glands. Long term deficiency in vitamin A also results in dry skin, fragile hair and hyperpigmentation.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to skin hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, angular stomatitis (redness and fissures near the angles of the mouth) and hair changes .Deficiency in Vitamin B12, is often due to abnormal absorption.
  • Lacking essential fatty acids has shown to affect the skin’s permeability which in turn can lack moisture.
  • Kwashiokor is a form of malnutrition due to the lack of protein in the diet, causing swelling under the skin. Malnutrition is the primary causative factor, with others including deficiencies in zinc, essential fatty acids and alfatoxins (fungal toxins affecting certain types of crops).
  • Vitamin C deficiency also known as scurvy, is caused by the decreased production and increased fragility of collagen (collagen: protein that stops the ageing process). The skin can show early signs such as bruising, red or purple spots and thickening of the skin.
  • Deficiencies in zinc can cause poor wound healing, fragile or sparse hair, cause dermatitis (skin inflammation) to weep or even lead to secondary infections.

Get in touch to

  • Manage specific conditions
  • Simply promote a youthful glowing skin
  • Skin that is more resistant to signs of aging

 

On the 16th and 30th of September 2015 we will be offering a Skin Analysis Consultation for members of the Royal Automobile Club, followed by a 15 minute chat with me

 

 

Health concerns as we age

Ageing is an extremely complex, multifactorial process and there are many theories of its pathophysiology. It is a natural and gradual decline of our functional organ reserves to maintain the right balance, especially under conditions of stress (diet, lifestyle, medical history, family history, trauma, injuries, income, environment, and so on). It is believed that this loss of function can start as early as 30-40 years old, and decline at an annual rate of 1 %.

Particular concerns as we age and how to age gracefully while we support our health and wellbeing

  • Immune system: Natural decrease in our ability to fight disease .The immune system is directly linked to levels of inflammation in the body and as we age, our ability to turn off the natural inflammatory process is lost. When the body is subjected to poor lifestyle choices amongst other factors, the result is chronic inflammation. Over time this puts us at risk of developing atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes or alzheimer’s disease.
  • Endocrine system : Decline in thyroid function ,metabolism, energy levels, sex hormones and glucose tolerance. There is also a reduction in DHEA, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands from cholesterol. It stimulates and strengthens the immune system, aids dietary protein synthesis, helping the mood, optimum wellness and reducing food intolerances.DHEA also helps prevent osteoporosis.
  • Cardiovascular system : Thickening of arterial walls, decrease in  heart rate response to stress, and maximum heart rate. Our lifestyle, nutrition and weight as we age can further impact on the cardiovascular system.
  • Gastrointestinal system: Decrease in digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid levels which support the breakdown of proteins, Vit B12, decrease in our liver’s ability to clear toxins and metabolise drugs as easily. The health of the gut also impacts on the immune system.
  • Nervous system: Cognitive decline made worst with chronic stress and low mood.
  • Musculoskeletal system: The body increases its bone mass until the mid 30’s after which a gradual loss begins. Genes decide on the bone shape and size, but mechanical stress by muscle, body weight, and physical activity influence the bone shape and density , and health throughout life. Other factors which contribute to osteoporosis include smoking, medication such as HRT, inadequate intakes of calcium, magnesium, boron, activity of weight bearing exercises.

Research shows that our relationship with food also changes as we age. Changes in appetite, loss of interest in preparing meals, social aspect of eating, gastrointestinal disturbances and therefore avoiding certain crucial nutrients or reducing the absorption of particular nutrients; chewing difficulties or changes in financial stability leading to less focus on healthy eating.

 

Principles associated with longevity

  • Regular balanced meals to avoid fluctuations in blood glucose levels and the stress hormone, cortisol. Be gentle on your digestion by eating 5 small meals daily
  • Moderate intake of stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco smoke, stress, sugar )which impact on cortisol levels, oxidative stress on the body and affect our balance of nutrients
  • Anti-inflammatory diet which includes herbs such as curcumin, ginger, boswellia, and omega 3 essential fatty acids from safe cold-water fish (3-5 servings/ week) , nuts (other than peanuts)  and  their respective milks, seeds, butters and oils, avocadoes etc.. Cook with fats (coconut oil, small amounts of organic butter or even small amounts of animal fat seldomly) which are resistant to heat and are not prone to oxidation ( destructive to our cells).Reduce your use of vegetable oils including canola, safflower, sunflower and corn oils, because they are heavily processed and oxidise upon heat.

Healthy fats also increase your levels of DHEA, our youth hormone !

  • Eat a rainbow of colours and maximise on vegetables, for their content of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals packed with antioxidants. The latter are naturally occurring compounds with disease prevention properties .

 

  • Your fibre intake should be 30-40g daily which would support healthy gastrointestinal health

 

  • Phytochemicals : Green tea , Blueberries, Bilberries, Dark Chocolate, Resvetrol found in grapes , protect the health of our cells from oxidation, retards the ageing process of the skin and protects against sunlight .These fight off inflammation as well.

 

  • Protein (focus on fish and vegetarian sources of protein), and less processed food. Be always wary of the label content. Protein requirements increase slightly with age to 1.0 to 1.25kg/kg. Protein helps to boost collagen production and will help you to keep a youthful appearance

 

  • Remain hydrated, with an approximate consumption of 2L of water daily (including herbal teas or coconut water). Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration is more common as we age as well as our thirst perception

 

  • Antioxidants– help protect the ageing body from the harmful effects of so-called free radicals – a type of highly reactive molecule which can destroy cell walls and lead to diseases such as cancer.
    • Glutathione : a naturally occurring protein that protects every cell, tissue, organ from toxic free radicals and disease. Made primarily in the liver, It is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. Older cells contain 20 to 30 % less glutathione than young cells !
    • Boost your levels with milk thistle; sulphur amino acids (from proteins found in eggs, meat, legumes ) and the amino acid glutamate (ripe tomatoes, walnuts, fish, turkey, rabbit, oats, barley)
    • Vitamin C , Selenium
    • Lutein (healthy vision) (kale, spinach broccoli) and lycopene (tomatoes)
    • Carotenoids (yellow and orange fruit and vegetables)

 

  • Take regular exercise which suits your ability, age and interest. Thus increasing the production of the hormone DHEA, glutathione levels, endorphins .Weight bearing exercise also enables you to lay down as much bone as possible during growth and keep as much as you can later on, preventing conditions like osteoporosis

 

  • Intakes of calcium (cruciferous vegetables, sesame seeds, dairy products )and adequate vitamin D levels should be kept in check regularly.

 

  • Stress reduction measures on a daily basis may include meditation, breath work, bio-energetic exercises (qi gong or tai chi), yoga, pilates, spiritual practises, adequate amounts of sleep, (8-10hours daily

 

  • Strong family and community ties

 

  • Last but not least : Be happy!

Irresistible Avocadoes

I’d like to share with you my love for avocadoes. If you are not an avocado lover yet, you may now be. Full of oleic acid, fibre, vitamin E, and packed with anti-oxidants. It has a rejuvenating effect on your body. It gives you beautiful complexion (besides being anti-ageing) and keeps your hair luscious which men just love! With the right type of fat it contains, it will keep your hearts healthy for donkey years. It is an incredible fruit; containing over 20 vitamins and minerals.
Food for thought: Ayurvedic vaidyars consider avocadoes to be anti vata and anti kapha; therefore if occasionally you suffer from dry skin or joint aches, avocado is the remedy for you. It moisturises dry hair and moistens dry lungs. It is a builder of ‘ojas’, hence it is wonderful as baby food! With its high content of electrolytes as well as containing calcium and magnesium, it is crucial for muscle functioning and balance, making it ideal for you to re-fuel after your TRX or HITT sessions or bodypump classes!You name it !

Have your avocadoes on toast, in smoothies, in salads, as a side guacamole or in a chocolate mousse below !
Nutrient breakdown per half avocado:
• Protein } 1/2 avocado contains 2g protein
• Fibre } 1/2 avocado contains 7g fiber
• Healthy fats } 1/2 avocado contains 15g fat
• Vitamins :Vitamin C } 17% DV; Vitamin E } 10% DV ;Vitamin K } 26% DV ; Folate } 20% DV ;B6 } 13% DV ; B5 } 14% DV
• Minerals : Magnesium } 7% DV ;Potassium } 14% DV; Copper } 9% DV ;Manganese } 7% DV

Dark Chocolate and Avocado Mousse for you and your guests

Ingredients:

2 very ripe avocados, 3 tbsps cocoa powder, squeeze of lime juice or more, 3-5 tbsps of organic runny honey (or agave syrup).
For the honeyed strawberries: 200g of strawberries, halved and thickly sliced,1 tbsp of organic runny honey, a good squeeze of lime/lemon juice.

Method :
Combine the strawberries, honey and lemon/lime juice. Cover and leave for 20-30 minutes then, once the juices start to seep out of the berries, stir again an set aside until ready to serve.  Meanwhile, make the mousse, halve the avocadoes, remove the stones, peel , and put the flesh in a food processor. Add the cocoa powder, a good squeeze of lime juice, and 3 tablespoons of honey. Process to a velvety, thick puree, then taste and add more honey or lime juice as you like.
Scoop the mousse into small serving dishes, cover and chill for an hour or so. Serve the honeyed strawberries and their juices spooned on top.

Understanding Food Intolerances

Understanding Food Intolerances

Several factors can be the cause of a food intolerance: chemical sensitivities (tartrazine E102), caffeine, sunset yellow- E110) or enzyme deficiencies (lactase enzyme deficiency for instance). Research has also found that food intolerances are linked to IgG antibodies produced by our immune system in response to certain foods. The IgG antibodies recognise and bind to specific food proteins and form immune complexes in the body which may accumulate in certain areas and trigger inflammation (in the joints, respiratory tract, skin).

Even though it may not be life threatening, food intolerances can manifest in an array of unpleasant symptoms which are often left unexplained, affecting your quality of life. The severity/frequency of the symptoms resulting in a food intolerance can depend on how long they have been present for, or could be made worst with a leaky gut (‘leaky gut’ occurs when gaps between the usual tight junctions in the gut form, and there is a loss of control of what passes through the lining of the small intestine, letting those substances to leak into the bloodstream). Conventional therapies or even certain supplements can help the symptoms but may not always prevent the onset.

The onset of the symptoms are delayed and often intermittent and may last for several days or even weeks. Thus making it harder to pin point which particular food or categories of food cause the intolerance.

Common symptoms that may occur singly or in combination may be the cause of food intolerances

  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches or migraine
  • Constipation
  • Skin problems (rashes, acne etc)
  • Weight issues and water retention
  • Anxiety (acute or chronic)
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Attention deficit disorder

As a side note:

Coeliac Disease is not a simple food intolerance but an auto-immune disorder caused by permanent intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein that can be found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Whilst about 45 % of the population suffer from food intolerances, only 2 % of us suffer from allergies. An allergy is an IgE mediated reaction which is a ‘defence mechanism’, when the body ‘s immune system believes that it is being threatened by something harmful and therefore produces an inappropriate response. The severity of the reaction can range from mild to severe, and occur immediately. Common allergens include :peanuts, eggs, sesame, shellfish, latex etc.

The NHS recommends the use of elimination diets, whereby you eliminate several categories of food at once, and slowly re-introduce them back into your diet whilst logging the food and the symptoms they cause or not. The process can be lengthy, frustrating and sadly not provide you with wonderful nutrients you ought to have on a regular basis

Food Intolerance tests can bring you a step ahead of your journey. Using finger prick tests, the blood sample can be sent to the lab and detailed results obtained 7 -10 days. The choice of the number of food (s) you would like to get tested for can range from 40 to 200 and the price varies accordingly. Simple tests using an accurate method can also be done in practice covering up to 59 foods and provide you a very good guide for us to tailor a plan according to your needs

Get in touch and together we can clear your uncertainties, support your diet and lifestyle with the right choices and supplements if required.

Food intolerance and weight gain

Research has also shown a correlation with the formation of IgG immune complexes to form inflammatory substances, called cytokines. Part of the cytokines family, is TNF-alpha , a molecule which has an important role in regulating both sugar and fat metabolism. It also can affect the hormone, leptin which in turn can cause the loss of hunger control, leading to the consumption of excessive portions of food. Unfortunately, to complicate things, TNF-alpha also blocks insulin receptors, promoting insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes. With this correlation in mind, it makes sense to support the diet with an elimination of foods causing an intolerance and provide alternatives to prevent nutritional deficiencies. Overall reducing the cytokines produced and inflammation caused.

The wonderful powers of Magnesium

In an ideal world, our daily food consumption should provide us with the necessary organic minerals but a lot of us are deprived of this option not only because of our dietary habits. The intensive use of pesticides and nitrogen based fertilisers therefore means that plants grow fast and artificially, causing a depletion of the magnesium content. This directly affects us, as our health also depends on the fertility of our soil.

Magnesium is involved in about 300 enzymatic body processes that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body. These include muscle and nerve function, protein synthesis, blood glucose control, neurotransmitter activity (i.e chemical messengers’ activity in the brain), hormonal balance and blood pressure regulation. It is an abundant mineral and vital for every organ in the body.

Our body contains approximately 25 g of magnesium with 50 to 60 % present in the bones and most of the rest in soft tissues.

 

Magnesium plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across our cell membranes, an important process to the conduction of nerve impulses, muscle contraction and a normal heart rhythm. Magnesium contributes to both the strength and formation of bones and teeth, and is required for several processes such as: for energy production (alongside other components); the synthesis of an incredible molecule called glutathione which supports our liver detoxification pathways, and above all it is required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA.

What about plants? Magnesium also has such an important role for photosynthesis! Without it, plants cannot capture the sun’s energy for photosynthesis. The mineral in plants is found in the enzymes, in the heart of the chlorophyll molecule, and the mineral is responsible for providing the leaves their beautiful green colour.

So which foods contain this wonder mineral? Animal and plant sources including wholegrains, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables and legumes.

Recent data from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey and the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed evidence of daily intakes being much lower than recommended amounts, in particular for magnesium, selenium and potassium. Being deficient in those minerals often leads on to profound cravings which are most commonly satisfied with high intakes of fast and processed foods, sugar and carbohydrates.

Unfortunately magnesium deficiency is one of most pronounced mineral deficiency. The industrial process involved in refining grains strips off the nutrient rich germ and bran, causing a significantly lower magnesium content. Other factors that can deplete us of magnesium, include: alcohol; medications such as diuretics, corticosteroids, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the contraceptive pill, proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole) and antibiotics; ageing, calcium supplements and bisphosphonates. A diet high in saturated fats also causes a reduction of magnesium in the intestines. Conditions which can affect magnesium status include poor digestive health, prolonged stress, poor kidney health, diabetes, heavy periods, irritable bowel disease or Chron’s disease. Intakes high in sugar also promote the excretion of magnesium via the kidneys. Whereas carbonated/fizzy drinks’ content of phosphates, bind to magnesium causing this new molecule to be unstable in the body and therefore having no good use.

On a regular basis, clients unknowingly present physical signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency. To name but a few: muscle spasms, anxiety, pre-menstrual symptoms related to hormonal imbalances, irritability, arrhythmias (irregular heart beat).Often subclinical symptoms are concealed by the lack of awareness and ability to distinguish the signs of magnesium deficiency from other health conditions/concerns. In particular when it comes to the diagnosis of depression, migraines, chronic fatigue and insomnia.

Beneficial intakes of magnesium have shown to be associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure, which correlates with a lower risk of coronary heart disease. Due to magnesium’s action in the digestive tract, it supports the breakdown of food and the assimilation of nutrients. It also supports the production of hydrochloric acid and bile. It is used commonly for postmenopausal osteoporosis where it supports calcium metabolism and bone formation

Overall, the best ways to obtain magnesium, is consuming it organically bound as we would find in whole foods. Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin, through the use magnesium salts or magnesium oil. This is also a wonderful way of relaxing the nervous and musculoskeletal system with a bath or foot soak of magnesium salts.

Consulting a nutritional therapist is the best way to understand which form of magnesium may be useful for which symptoms and the therapeutic doses required to address these. It is best not to supplement without an in depth consultation where we delve deeper in what may affect your health status.

The data below was extracted from the ‘Magnesium Fact Sheet (2013) for Health professionals by the US department of Health and Human Sciences.

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium
Food Milligrams (mg) per serving Percent DV*
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78 20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63 16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60 15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50 13
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 11
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42 11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium 40 10
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36 9
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35 9
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7
Milk, 1 cup 24–27 6–7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Raisins, ½ cup 23 6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12 3
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10 3
Apple, 1 medium 9 2
Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7 2

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for magnesium is 400 mg for adults and children aged 4 and older. However, the FDA does not require food labels to list magnesium content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

Reference for this table of values and information can be found on

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/ (accessed on 24/05/2015)