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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!

Ultimate post workout Green Smoothie

Post workout smoothie to give you the energy you need for a long day ahead

ingredients :

Blend the following

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (almond breeze)

1 cup of spinach leaves

1 ripe banana

1 kiwi

1-2 teaspoons of spirulina from organic burst

1/2 cup of ground almonds

top up with ice cubes if you want to or more milk and sprinkle with chia seeds

This recipe is wonderful for energy levels, contains a good content of essential fats , magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, chromium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin K and B’s, fibre, vitamin E and prebiotics especially from the kiwi therefore enhancing healthy bacterial growth in the gut. The spirulina has wonderful benefits, it

  • is high in protein (gram for gram, higher than that in animal produce, fish or soybeans)
  • is anti-inflammatory with its content of gamma linolenic acid (beneficial for inflammatory conditions including pre-menstrual syndrome)
  • it has 26 times the amount of calcium found in milk !
  • supports the body’s natural ability to detox,
  • helps to improve the assimilation of nutrients
  • has four times the antioxidant properties of blueberries,
  • an easily absorbable form of iron (great if anaemic;pregnant or suffering from constipation)
  • is incredible for healthy eyes with its high content in vitamin A
  •  and by actively promoting cell regeneration, it helps wounds heal quicker and recovery from illnesses occur faster.It nonetheless boosts the immune system !

 

Enjoy your smoothie

 

Apple and cinnamon muffins

Wholegrain Dairy Free Apple and Cinnamon Muffins

These are delicious and perfect for a tea time snack for the family on the weekend, or as an alternative to unhealthy snacks at work or school. They have no refined sugars, no dairy(especially if you try to avoid it like I do) and the wholegrain flour allows you to have a lower glycaemic index snack and keep you fuller for longer. Therefore one muffin should be sufficient and allow you to have better control on your portion. I ran an interactive food club with some of my clients on their weight loss journey last night where the topic was about portion control and hunger management. We know it can be hard to remind ourselves how much is considered reasonable when you are trying to achieve such a goal and break off particular habits (ex: 50 % of the plate filled with unrefined carbohydrates or consuming a whole pack of Nairns oat cakes (6) as a snack when 3 oat cakes should be enough).
I will delve deeper into this in a separate article.
Let’s get back to the muffins

Ingredients :

250g of wholegrain flour ( or gluten free self raising flour is an alternative if you are gluten intolerant)

1 tsp of baking powder

1-2 tsp of cinnamon

50-70g of agave nectar (or organic honey, the amount depends on the sweetness you would like to obtain. Agave nectar is lower in GI than honey/sugar.  )

2 eggs

125 ml of unsweetened almond milk (or organic wholebean soya milk)

2 grated apples (or 1 grated large cooking apple)

4 tablespoons of organic coconut oil

(50-100 g of sultanas can be an additional ingredient to the mixture)

Method

1.Heat your oven to 180/160 degrees Celsius ( fan/gas4).In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon.
2.In another bowl, mix the eggs, milk, coconut oil ( if quite hard at room temperature, you may melt the coconut oil and allow it to cool down before adding it to the mixture), agave nectar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well whilst raising the mixture with a wooden spoon and keeping it light. Then stir in the grated apples
3.Divide the mixture between 12 muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack and they are ready to eat

IMG_0204

As a note : Dried fruits like sultanas or prunes have high levels of sugar by volume not by piece.They also contain sulphites which can trigger asthmatic reactions so be careful. If you are watching the amount of sugar you are consuming, then avoid the sultanas in this recipe.

Cinnamon is a wonderful spice that contains Chromium, a mineral that plays a role in how insulin helps the body to regulate blood sugar levels.Insulin is a hormone that your body uses to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily requirements. Chromium has been found to be a great tool in reducing your sugar cravings and research has shown that it can help pre-diabetic and diabetic type 2 patients. Always get in touch with a health professional before supplementing !

Homemade Nutty and Coconut Granola

FullSizeRender (5)My first attempt at making granola was not bad at all ! I ‘ve been asked to share my recipe so here it is. So looking forward to trying it with different ingredients.Swap the granola you get from supermarkets, often laden with added sugars and unhealthy fats which are pro-inflammatory and unfortunately contribute to several chronic health conditions.

This recipe is packed with oats, which stabilise your blood sugar levels so great when on a Low GI diet. If you are intolerant to gluten you can select the gluten free oats and voila this recipe is then also Gluten free in addition to it being dairy free.

The coconut oil, nuts, seeds including the chia seeds are lovely for your skin, hair and nails and giving you the glow you want and deserve .You get the sweetness from the cinnamon (great for hormone balancing and stabilising the sugar cravings you may have occasionally) and from dried dates. For those who follow a plant based diet, you get great amounts of healthy protein but also plenty of amounts of protein. Yes we use coconut oil , and once you invest in one of those  pots ( lucybee coconut oil, tiana , or higher nature for example), it will last for a while and you”ll find yourself baking and cooking with it all the time. This recipe is delicious !

Ingredients

2 cups of oats

1/2 cup of chopped almonds (when toasted in a pan for a few minutes, or in the oven, they add more crunch to the granola. you may do so before chopping them)

1.5 cup of coconut (flakes or shredded)

1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds

1/4 sunflower seeds

1/4 chopped dried dates

1/4 cup of pecans

wet ingredients

1/4 melted coconut oil

2-3 tablespoons of agave syrup or honey or maple syrup

2 tablespoons of cinnamon

1tsp of vanilla extract

Method : Melt your coconut oil in a saucepan and add in the other wet ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Substitute your ingredients for those that you prefer. Be it walnuts, cranberries, brazil nuts, walnuts,  raisins, ground flax…

Preheat your oven at 180 degrees Celsius.

Spread the mixture onto a pan lined with parchment paper or a non-stick mat and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Do check very 15 minutes or so and give the granola a good stir

Allow to cool for 20-25 minutes before serving. You may keep the granola in the fridge or in an air-tight glass container for about a month..

Serving suggestion, with homemade apple compote ( cooked apples and water- wonderful source of pectin, anti-oxidants, fibre , low in sugar) and a sprinkle of chia seeds ( for more healthy protein and omega’s.)

or as a top up to your porridge, yoghurt or fruits.

 

 

 

 

Banana oat and coconut loaf

Dig into a slice of this moist, slightly nutty, hearty loaf for breakfast on the go or an afternoon snack to prevent dips in energy levels. It is also perfect post workout and it packed with fibre Here is my very easy Gluten free and Dairy free recipe. Adapt it as you like and let me know of the outcome.

Ingredients :

3ripe bananas, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 egg, 3tbsp grape seed oil or coconut oil( melted), 1/4  cup of organic cane sugar , 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 2-3 tbsp. of honey, (depending on the ripeness of the bananas), 3.5 tsp of baking powder, 3/4 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, 3/4 cup of almond milk or other milk of your choice, 1 and 1/4 cup of  dry shredded coconut, 1 and 1/4 of gluten free flour (again you may swap for wholemeal flour or self-raising flour of your choice, but do adjust the amount of baking powder is using a self-raising flour), 1 and 1/4 of organic gluten free oats.

1.Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius ( 350 F), Line a loaf pan with greaseproof paper

2.Mash banana in a large bowl and add all your ingredients through almond milk, and whisk vigorously to combine. Lastly add shredded coconut (you may swap this for almond meal ).Add the flour and oats and stir

.3. Bake for about an hour, when it is ready it should feel firm and be crackly with a golden brown tint.

4.allow it to cool completely before cutting or it will be too tender to hold form

5.Serve as it is, or add some nut butter or a thin layer of honey. But I loved it just as it was

You can slice and freeze for longer storage. But if you have children or men to feed in the house with packed snacks, it will go away very quickly, I promise. 🙂

So overall the loaf, has the right amounts of protein, fibre, is anti-inflammatory, full of flavour, Beta-glucans from the oats make it good for the heart and reduces the bad type of cholesterol, it will help to balance blood sugar levels and keep you full, limiting sugar cravings. It has omega 3 fats from the coconut oil and shredded coconut ! and these do not oxidise into harming molecules  ( we call free radicals) for the body , upon high heat ( like sunflower, vegetable oil, peanut oil amongst others) Omega 3 are also wonderful for the brain (development and concentration !) and beautiful skin.

If you do not eat EGGS, swap it with chia seeds, 1 tbsp of chia seeds with 2 and 1/2 tbsps of water which you mix and let it soak for a 5 mins.

You may also reduce the sugar content of the loaf as you wish, which I did.it really depends on who you are making it for.

happy snacking

x isabelle

Salmon, Lentils and Celeriac mash

I prepack my lunch on most days and made this last week in no time. I have missed a good green lentil dish and thought it would remind me of the flavours from home, since they form part of  traditional Mauritian cuisine.

Ingredients :

Green Lentils, 2 gloves of garlic, 1 medium onion,fresh thyme, 1 Celeriac, herbes de provence or other herbs of your choice, salmon, olive oil, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper

Method

Rinse your green Lentils and   boil them with just enough water to cover them. Once cooked, remove the excess water. Add coconut oil or olive oil to a pan, 2 cloves of garlic, an onion, and fresh thyme .I usually prefer adding my herbs last as this is how they retain the most nutrients. Season to taste. In Mauritius, they occasionally cook the lentils with bacon, and if that’s your wish to do so, then add a few pieces of good quality bacon with the herbs/onions/garlic combination after stripping off the fat.Keep those additions as a reward for eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle at least 80 % of your time and allowing yourself to have treats 15-20% of the time

While the lentils cook, strip the skin off the celeriac with a sharp knife) and cut into pieces, and steam or boil them until soft.Mash the celeriac and set aside. Cook the garlic for a few seconds in  a teaspoon of olive oil and toss the mashed celeriac with the garlic, herbes de provence and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

The salmon was simply roasted in the oven with salt and pepper.

 

Nutritional INFO

Lentils are wonderful, free from gluten, full of dietary fibre, high in protein (26% of lentils calories are attributed to protein). Being free from gluten they give a break to your digestion especially if you eat them as part of a vegetarian meal, or accompanied with fish instead of animal based protein (since those require longer to be processed by the body). They help keep your blood sugar levels at bay, and therefore are ideal if you are diabetic or suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome  (PCOS) for example. The Fibre content helps to relieve constipation of course, but also other digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

Lentils for lunch are great since they sustain your hunger until the evening, giving your pancreas a rest since you won’t be snacking for a change. Good source of iron, hence help in  transporting oxygen throughout the body and is key to energy production and metabolism.

Low in calories with no fat, they can be used to manage your weight.

Celeriac root is my chosen vegetable as a side dish and gives it body and depth.It is far more nutritious and tasty than the standard potatoes and I have mostly enjoyed it  in  the past at restaurants. Be adventurous and use it in your dishes. It has a nutty, creamy and sweet flavour and is a lovely seasonal vegetable !Eating seasonally allows you to benefit from the nutrients to the maximum !Wonderful alternative to use as a mash for children but you can also opt for sweet potato instead. What else can it bring you ? manganese, vitamin K, phosphorous, vitamin B complex, dietary fibre, calcium, potassium , sodium and magnesium. It high in anti-oxidants and research has shown it may have beneficial effects against colon cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It is a diuretic ! just like it’s related vegetable, celery, and helps you to get rid of the excess water and can relieve muscle stiffness.Vitamin K,  helps to increase bone mass whereas the copper and phosphorus help in bone metabolism.

We can often be deficient in minerals because of the quality of the soil in which our vegetables grow, the medications that we take, or how we cook or combine our foods. Obtaining these minerals through organic/home grown/ or fresh vegetables definitely helps.. Celeriac has been found to be good for mental health, increasing blood flow to the brain and can be of use in conditions like Alzheimer’s, insomnia or stress.

The dish is complemented with  Salmon giving you a good dose of protein, omega 3, and brain boosting nutrients to keep our mind clear and focussed !

enjoy xxx