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The Second Spring – Managing Peri-menopause and Menopause years with diet and lifestyle

 

In China, a woman’s menopause is called the ‘second spring’. It is viewed as a positive life stage. Northern Thailand have one of the few examples of a menopause ceremony. While it is universal to celebrate births and weddings, the Meo have developed their own ritual to celebrate menopause in an older woman. It is common knowledge that women in Asian countries like China and Japan suffer less with their menopause than western women do and this is thought to be due to dietary factors, namely a high consumption of soy produce containing plant oestrogens that reduce low oestrogen symptoms. However, it may not only be diet playing a role in this striking difference, it may also be because Asian populations welcome ‘the change’.

During the menopause, our metabolic rate drops, as does our cardiovascular rate, so women must be careful to watch their blood pressure. Increasing levels of magnesium and potassium is important, as is reducing sodium, (potassium lowers blood pressure whilst sodium heightens blood pressure). Foods such as oranges, bananas, new potatoes, sweet potatoes, white beans, dates, tomatoes and raisins all help here.

Studies have found that the DASH low salt diet improved women’s moods in the menopause, whilst oily fish has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in some. Generally healthy diets are linked to better cognition and concentration.

It is also important to eat lots of B vitamins to keep energy up and stay positive mentality. Wholegrains, marmite and wholegrain cereals all contain vitamin B.

We also loose bone density as we age and especially in the menopause, so we should up our levels of calcium. Cheese, yoghurts, milk, pak choi and dark leafy greens and almonds all contain a lot of calcium.

The Mediterranean diet is recommended by dieticians as a healthy diet and it is thought that this can improve women’s moods.

What are isoflavones?

Isoflavones are part of a group of plant-based chemicals called phytoestrogens. These chemicals act like a weaker form of oestrogen in the body.

The main isoflavones in soy are genistein and daidzein. When you eat soy, bacteria in your intestines break it down into its more active forms.

Once in your body, soy isoflavones bind to the same receptors as oestrogen. Receptors are like docking stations on the surface of cells. When isoflavones bind to some receptors, they mimic the effects of oestrogen. When they bind to other receptors, they block oestrogen’s effects.

When isoflavones mimic oestrogen, they might help reduce hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.

Soy is low in saturated fat and calories. It’s also high in these beneficial nutrients:

  • fibre
  • protein
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • antioxidants

If you’re interested in exploring soy’s potential health benefits, consider adding some of these foods to your diet:

  • soy flour
  • edamame
  • miso soup
  • tempeh
  • fermented tofu
  • soy milk
  • soy yogurt

General Dietary Guidelines

1.Centre diet around plant-based whole-foods: women who follow a plant-based diet have a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Recent evidence suggests that they may also suffer fewer menopausal symptoms.

2.Think “right carbs, good fats” not “low-carb, high fat” or “no fat”: complex carbohydrates (e.g. root vegetables, beans, oats, wholegrains) and plant-based fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, avocado, good quality olive oil) are essential for good hormonal health.

3.Eat the rainbow AND the alphabet: fill your plate with a wide variety of brightly coloured fruit & veg. Aim to include at least ten different types of vegetable in your meals each week – diversity is key to a healthy gut microbiome (and good hormonal & emotional health). Leafy greens and dark-coloured berries are particularly beneficial.

4.Include a serving (or two) of beans/lentils/hummus in your daily diet – a fantastic source of fibre, protein and micronutrients. Also excellent for heart health.

5.Consider switching cow’s milk for fortified soya/oat/hemp milk (more heart-healthy)

6.Include minimally processed soya foods in your diet: e.g. edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, miso (limit to one serving daily if you have a thyroid condition) – helpful for menopausal symptoms, heart and breast health.

7.Flavour your food with all manner of herbs & spices (rich in anti-oxidants) – experiment!

8.Minimise refined/processed carbohydrates and junk food (e.g. refined sugar, white bread, baked goods, take-aways), alcohol, caffeine & animal products.

SUPPLEMENTS

All available from Revital online or in shops:
Discount Code 3009172

Take these for a minimum of three months in order to achieve the best results

Multi vitamin and mineral specific for menopause years with digestive enzymes to help support nutrient absorption

https://www.revital.co.uk/nhp-meno-support-multi-60-vegetarian-capsules-28778

Vitamin B complex these are called the ‘stress’ vitamins because they help reduce anxiety, tension, irrititablity and poor concentration and help improve energy levels.

https://www.revital.co.uk/viridian-high-twelve-vitamin-b12-with-b-complex-90-vegetarian-capsules-2749

Magnesium citrate this is known as ‘natures tranquiliser’ so it helps with anxiety, irritability and other mood changes. Can be taken up to 3 times a day however taken just before bed can improve the time it takes to fall asleep and sleep quality.

https://www.revital.co.uk/biocare-magnesium-citrate-90caps

Bone Support is a blend of calcium and magnesium with minerals and plant enzymes to support healthy skeletal system and bone metabolism.

https://www.revital.co.uk/nutri-advanced-osteo-p-complex-120caps

Vitamin D3 helps with calcium absorption, helps prevent cancers, especially breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.  Aim for 10 mcg/400 IU October-April (in spring/summer, ensure sun exposure to skin on arms/legs/back for at least 20 minutes daily; continue supplement if not possible)

https://www.revital.co.uk/nutri-advanced-vitamin-d3-drops-with-k2-30ml-7177

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) to help prevent cognitive decline and protect hear healthy and healthy arteries: EPA & DHA (1250 mg/daily) or 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed (e.g. added to cereal/smoothies/salad/soups) and 6 walnut halves daily

https://www.revital.co.uk/wileys-finest-wild-alaskan-fish-oil-peak-epa-60caps

Iodine: To support the healthy thyroid function. Either ¼ teaspoon iodised salt daily or supplement (up to 0.5 mg/day – do not exceed this).  You can eat Seaweed thins too as a good source of iodine.

https://www.revital.co.uk/biotics-research-liquid-iodine-forte-2fl-oz-27416

Sea Buckthorn oil 3g day taken orally to prevent vaginal atrophy and drying of the vaginal mucosa, also excellent for dry eyes, eczema, dermatitis.

https://www.revital.co.uk/pharma-nord-omega-7-sea-buckthorn-oil-150-capsules-3345

Vitamin E has been shown to reduce hot flushes.  Its also helpful for vaginal dryness and reduces risk of heart attack.

https://www.revital.co.uk/solgar-natural-vitamin-e-268mg-100-soft-gels-400iu-195

Libido Supplement for Women this formula aims to increase energy, protect against stress, revive those intimate moments and improve sexual performance

https://www.naturalhealthpractice.com/libido-support-for-women-60.html

Phytoestrogen Meno Herbal complex containing soy and other herbs

https://www.revital.co.uk/nhp-meno-herbal-60vcaps

Herbal supplements to alleviate menopausal symptoms

With a unique blend of six organic herbs for women over the age of 45.  Black Cohosh, used for centuries by Native American Indian wise women, has always been the herb of choice due to its effectiveness. Red Sage and Milk Thistle are excellent herbs for creating harmony and balance.

https://www.naturalhealthpractice.com/black-cohosh-premium-support.html

SLEEP

  1. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night
  2. Switch off electronic devices at least one hour before bed and/or consider wearing blue-light blocking glasses in the evening
  3. Aim to get up at approximately the same time each day to establish a routine (this will help with hormonal balance)
  4. Aim to get outside in the morning daylight (whatever the weather) for at least 20 minutes each day. If this is not possible, try and have your breakfast/morning drink close to a window/in a naturally lit area.
  5. Do not drink caffeinated beverages after midday
  6. Avoid alcohol before bed – not only does it reduce good-quality sleep, it is an endocrine (hormone) disrupter and can affect HRT.

EXERCISE/MOVEMENT

  1. Aim to move your body daily – this is important for mental & physical well-being, as well as hormonal balance.
  2. If you don’t already have an exercise regimen, start slowly – even a ten-minute walk around the block has its benefits https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10/home , or consider a five minute morning online yoga session e.g. https://yogawithadriene.com/5-minute-morning-yoga/
  3. Weight-bearing exercise (e.g. hiking, running, dancing, weight-training, tennis) – at least twice weekly – is essential for bone health after menopause. Swimming and cycling are great forms of exercise for heart health and general well-being but will not prevent osteoporosis.
  4. Consider joining your local Park Run http://www.parkrun.org.uk/  or Great Run Local https://www.greatrunlocal.org/ – great not only for exercise, but also community-building, social inclusion and gets you out into nature (which has enormous benefits for our mental health). Do not be put off if you do not run (yet!); many people walk or walk-run around the courses. Children and dogs are welcome too!
  5. Balance and core-strength are increasingly important as we age and reduce the risk of falling in later life. Another reason to consider a regular yoga practice, or why not sign up to a local Pilates or tai chi class?

STRESS REDUCTION/SELF CARE

  1. Stress reduction is important for all of us and is paramount during the menopausal transition
  2. 5-10 minutes of daily mindfulness meditation/breathing exercises can provide enormous benefits and lower the stress response: Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer are all meditation apps you can trial for free.
  3. Take at least 15 minutes a day, every day, to do something you enjoy (and just for you) e.g. reading a novel, playing an instrument, having a candle-lit bath, listening to your favourite music/podcast.
  4. BE KIND TO YOURSELF

Suggested reading:

  • The Stress Solution: Dr Rangan Chatterjee
  •  A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled: Ruby Wax

Cook books:

  • The Doctors Kitchen
  • Deliciously Ella
  • Hemsley & Hemsley
  • Healthy Eating for the Menopause – Marilyn Glenville

Websites:

https://theguthealthdoctor.com
https://www.devongutclinic.com/healthy
https://courses.thehappypear.ie/

What other things work:

  • Acupuncture – to help reduce sweats and balance mood as well as helping with overactive bladder
  • Valerian Herbal tea & Camomile tea – calming and great before bed
  • Lavender oil – to relax you at night, put a few drops on your pillow
  • Chillow – cooling pillow

Keep Calm and Survive My PMS

What is PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that often occur in the days before a teenager’s or woman’s monthly period. Also known as premenstrual tension (PMT), symptoms will vary from woman to woman.

Symptoms typically occur in the two weeks before the period starts, improving and easing once the period starts and in the days after.

Common symptoms include bloating, breast pain, mood swings and tiredness.

 

Symptoms of PMS 

 

There have been more than 100 different symptoms recorded. Generally, symptoms of PMS fall into two categories: physical, and psychological and behavioural.

Common physical symptoms include:

  • bloating
  • headaches
  • backache
  • breast pain
  • abdomen (tummy) pain and discomfort
  • sleeping problems
  • weight gain (up to 1kg)

Common psychological and behavioural symptoms include:

  • mood swings
  • emotional
  • irritable
  • difficulty concentrating
  • clumsiness
  • tiredness
  • restlessness
  • decreased self-esteem
  • food cravings and/or appetite changes

 

Any long-term conditions such as asthma or migraines may get worse during this time. Certain lifestyle factors are thought to worsen symptoms, such as lack of exercise, poor diet and stress.

Treatment

 

There are a number of treatments that may help you manage symptoms of PMS, especially if they are interfering with your daily life. There are certain lifestyle and diet changes that can help ease symptoms.

Lifestyle changes

While these changes won’t make PMS disappear, they can help to ease symptoms, making the days and weeks before the monthly cycle more manageable. Eating a balanced diet can be a great help in managing symptoms of PMS. These tips help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and may help control your symptoms.

Physical activity

Of course, regular physical activity is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If possible, aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week (30 minutes for five days). This could be walking, swimming or cycling. Regular exercise keeps the body healthy and can also help alleviate tiredness and depression. Stretching-based activities, such as yoga and pilates are great ways to de-stress and help you sleep better. In some cases, stretching is also thought to help ease abdominal discomfort during your period.

What Nutrition can do to help alleviate PMT

Below we explore five foods that can help prevent PMT:

Vegetables, fruit and high fibre foods 

Changes in hormone levels are thought to be a primary cause of PMT. Therefore, a fibre-rich diet can be highly beneficial for those with severe symptoms. This is because fibre reduces the stress on your liver – the organ that metabolises hormones, including oestrogen. Furthermore, once digested, fibre absorbs excess oestrogen and transports it out of the body. The added benefit is that fibre balances blood sugar. This can help to control mood swings and fatigue.

Essential fatty acids 

Eating foods rich in essential fatty acids (such as mixed nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocados, olive oi and seeds oils) can make a big difference to PMT symptoms. This is because essential fatty acids help produce prostaglandins – a group of lipid compounds that regulate hormones and reduce inflammation.

Foods rich in vitamin B6 

Bananas, whole grains, eggs, beans and nuts are among the foods that contain vitamin B6. This vitamin is effective not only for pain relief but can also help the liver to remove excess oestrogen. Research also shows a link between vitamin B6 and reduced depression and irritability.

Natural live yoghurt 

Research suggests women who eat a diet rich in calcium have a lower risk of developing PMT by as much as 40%. Just an eight-ounce cup of natural yoghurt contains 25% of your daily recommended intake of calcium, which makes it a great snack option for tackling PMT symptoms.

Chamomile tea 

Although it’s not technically a food, including chamomile tea in your diet could make a huge difference to your PMT symptoms. This is because it contains antispasmodic properties that can help to ease the severity of menstrual cramps and muscle spasms. Chamomile tea is also highly relaxing and can help to soothe stress and anxiety.

Valerian tea

Herbal teas have been used for centuries around the world as natural sleep remedies. Modern research also backs the use of herbal teas and their effectiveness as a sleep aid. Today valerian is one of the most popular herbal sleep aids in Europe and the US. Valerian root many increase sleepiness by increasing levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA. 

Other nutrients that help with your hormonal balance:

Magnesiumis natures clamant and helps us feel relaxed.  Enjoy an Epsom Salt bath a couple of times a week.  Put 2 mugs of Epsom salts into your bath water and enjoy a warm soak for at least 20 mins.  We absorb Magnesium very well through our skin. The reason why so many of us crave chocolate so much the week before our period is because it is another great source of magnesium. While there’s no reason not to enjoy some antioxidant rich dark chocolate, try to up your intake of this essential mineral from foods such as green leafy veg (eg. Kale, spinach, watercress), Nuts and Seeds (flax, pumpkin) Legumes (beans, chickpeas and kidney beans) and wholegrains.

B Vitamins– diets low in B1 and B2 are associated with a higher occurrence of PMS. B1 can be found in fortified cereals, legumes and nuts and B2 can be found in cow’s milk, red meat, green leafy vegetables. B12 is yet another one that plays a major role in emotional stability. B12 is only available from animal products so if you are a vegan you should take a supplement.

Vitamin D– this is a very common nutrient to be deficient in during the winter months.  Women with high levels of Vitamin D are less likely to have PMS symptoms. Try Vitamin D drops or a mouth spray and take throughout the winter months from October or April. Revital offer a good range online or buy in any chemist.

Calcium – again women’s whose diet is rich in Calcium are less likely to suffer PMS.  4 servings of dairy products are recommended each day to supply enough of these nutrients. In addition, calcium can be found in almonds, dried fruits such as figs and apricots and green leafy vegetables like cabbage, kale and broccoli.

Phytoestrogensfrom foods such as Flaxseeds, Tofu, Almonds, Pistachios, Sesame Seeds, Edamame beans, Lentils, Beans, Barley, Oats may reduce PMS symptoms such as headaches. Our data is limited however studies show women in Asia who have high levels of phytoestrogens in their diet do have fewer PMS symptoms.

 

 

Super Charging your Immunity

At this time of year, many of us will experience bouts of colds, infections, catarrh and similar concerns. Often we blame bugs as the cause of our illness rather than addressing varying weaknesses in our immune system due to poor diet and other factors.

Factors That Affect The Immune System

There are many possible factors that can weaken the immune system as listed below:

  • High sugar diets:Sugar decreases the ability of white blood cells to kill pathogens almost immediately. It is especially important to cut out sugar when you feel that you are coming down with an infection.
  • Dehydration:Every process in the body takes place in the fluids within our bodies; lack of hydration will hinder the normal biological processes and thus affect immunity.
  • Sleep disturbances:Sleep is absolutely essential for optimum health; during sleep there is growth and regeneration of the immune system, nervous system and the musculoskeletal system; if your body is fatigued due to lack of sleep, then you will feel tired and it will be harder to fight disease.
  • Stress:Most stress is unavoidable and we all face some degree of stress, however if stress levels becomes overwhelming, then your body will find it difficult to fight off disease.
  • Exercise:When you exercise, you increase circulation to every tissue and organ within the body; the individual components that make up the immune system are better circulated and help ensure the immune system has a better chance of acting on the pathogens before they get a chance to spread.
  • Poor diet:A balanced and healthy diet is important to ensure optimal immunity; try to consume whole grains and healthy fats found in fish, seeds and nuts; include garlic and onion into your foods for their antimicrobial properties.
  • Lack of vitamin D:Vitamin D’s role in maintaining a healthy immune system is unquestionable and most of us are vitamin D deficient.
  • Too much alcohol:drink only in moderation as going over the recommended units of alcohol per week can reduce your immunity

How to improve your immunity

Typically, the worst symptoms of a cold last for three days though you can feel congestion for up to seven days which can be draining. It makes sense to get rid of the cold quickly because who wants to live with these symptoms.

Garlic

Garlic helps support the immune system and is known for its antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Make an effort to add more garlic to your food, especially raw if you can.  Garlic has an incredible anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects, which can kill bacteria and viruses. Something as simple as adding raw garlic to soups, pesto and dressings can really reduce the intensity and duration of a cold or the flu. If you really can’t bear to it raw, wait at least ten minutes after peeling before you cook it – this will allow the close to retain more of its health benefits.

Zinc

Zinc can shorten the duration of a common cold by nearly three days according to a recent study by the University of Helsinki. The best sources of zinc include; meat and poultry, shellfish (crab, clams, mussels), nutritious vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, kale and garlic), legumes (hummus, lentils, edamame, black beans), nuts & seeds (pumpkin, pine nuts, sesame, chia, cashews, pecans) and even dark chocolate, the darker the better 70% + cocao ideally.

Feed your gut bacteria – pre and probiotics

Countless studies have suggested probiotics can have a significant impact on our immunity. Bolster your defences in the winter by incorporating plenty of fermented foods – think sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, live unsweetened yoghurt, miso soup and sourdough all help feed your microbiome (gut bacteria).   Up to 70% of your immune system lies in your gut, so nourish it for optimal health, it thrives on a very high fibre natural food diet rich in coloured fruits and vegetables.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used for their immune-boosting effects for centuries. Research recently revealed mushrooms are a superfood – they’re packed with antioxidants, notably selenium, which helps to support the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms are particularly effective.

Stress Less

Stress can have a huge impact on the immune system – when we’re stressed, this suppresses the immune system, making infection significantly more likely. Take time out for yourself on a regular basis – do more yoga, learn to breathe properly, try to meditate just for a few minutes a day and stay mindful.

Ditch the sugar

If you feel a cold coming on, the most important thing you can do is avoid sugar, as this is damaging to the immune system and suppresses our ability to fight infection. Sugar also makes the body acidic, and an overly acid body provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and disease.

Boost your Vitamin C

Did you know the likes of kiwi, peppers, kale, papaya, strawberries and brussels sprouts boast more vitamin C than citrus fruit? Vitamin C is vital during the winter months to boost immunity as it works to produce antibodies and boost the activity of immune cells.

Drink Bone Broth

If there’s one food we should all be adding more of to our diets this winter, it’s bone broth. Great for supporting the gut (where the majority of the immune system sits), bone broth can also help to reduce inflammation, thus warding off infection.

 

 

The Dirty Truth About Energy Drinks causing Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Energy drinks are caffeinated soft drinks that claim to boost performance and endurance. Consumption of these products has been associated with a number of very serious health complaints.

Considering the idea that energy drink use may cause behavioural problems and negatively impact on mental health and well-being, it is concerning to find that the products are often aggressively marketed at young people.

Children aged between 12 and 17 are among the fastest growing population of caffeine users, with 30–50% of adolescents and young adults being known to consume energy drinks.

PubMed and PsycINFO were searched for all peer-reviewed articles published that addressed associations between energy drink use and mental health outcomes. Fifty-six articles were retrieved, the majority of studies examined reported positive associations between energy drink consumption and symptoms of mental health problems.

More research is required, however these studies suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks is correlated with;

Anxiety, depression, restlessness, fidgetiness, irritability, difficulties concentrating, problems falling asleep & self harm behaviour.

Eating for Memory and Concentration

 

Much of today’s diet is highly processed and comes with an abundance of high fat, sugar and salt all beautifully packed up for us in fancy enticing packaging whether its energy drinks, ready meals, protein shakes and so on.  So many of these products contain a list of ingredients and chemicals we’d struggle to read, let alone process in our bodies.  We know that junk food and foods with chemicals and E numbers have been linked to ADHD and memory issues.  You’ll be pleased to know that what we call “brain foods” are actually just regular old ‘real’ food that we were eating before the 1900’s.  Something similar to our evolutionary diet as hunter gathers is perfect fodder for our brains eg. Meat, fish, nuts, seeds, berries, fruit and vegetables, we’ve evolved to also enjoy eating grains too.  Ironically these types of foods are the foods that allow are body to operate at full capacity aka what you call “brain foods”!

If you can’t catch or gather/grow it, you don’t eat it!

 

Food is the fuel that regulates your energy and mood, both of which can significantly affect your focus. Just as you shouldn’t put olive oil into your car to make it run, you shouldn’t put highly processed junk foods into your body to make you run. Food has the incredible ability to affect your mental clarity, mood, memory, and ability to focus, so if you’re looking to boost your focus, one of the places you should start with is what you’re eating.

There are a lot of foods you can eat at each meal and throughout the day to feed your brain right and optimize your cognitive performance. The key is to make sure you get these nutrients consistently, i.e. every single day.

Breakfast

Tip: Don’t skip it! This is the first meal of the day you’ll need in order to make it through tough study sessions. So, don’t just starve yourself or have coffee as a meal replacement. Make it a priority to eat.

Oatmeal: mixed with 1 tablespoon flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon peanut butter, sliced banana or other fresh fruit and some walnuts or almonds on top. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a healthy fat that boosts cerebral cortex function.

Simple fruit, yoghurt and nuts: Layer 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1 tablespoon granola, 1 cup fresh fruit (sliced or diced) and a spoonful of nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Almonds are beneficial for increased attention and awareness necessary for learning, as well as restoring memory and cognitive function.

Eggs: Eggs are a powerful mix of B vitamins (they help nerve cells to burn glucose), antioxidants (they protect neurons against damage) and omega-3 fatty acids (they keep nerve cells functioning at optimal speed). How many? Two should be enough.

A beet and berry smoothie: The natural nitrates in beets can increase blood flow to your brain, which improves mental performance. In a blender, combine 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1 cup frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), 1/2 cup diced beets (raw or roasted), 1 tablespoon granola, 2–3 dates, 1/4 cup coconut water or plain low-fat yogurt and 3 ice cubes. Blend for one minute.

 

Lunch

Tip: Stay away from fast food; it’s typically greasy and loaded with carbohydrates, which can fill you up quickly, but you’ll feel a slump later (and may even feel groggy or sleepy in the afternoon). Opt for a lighter lunch instead. Aim for one third protein, one third complex carbs (eg brown bread, rice, pasta or pulses) and one third fruit or grown over the ground vegetables.

A wild salmon or mackerel sandwich: Layer tinned salmon or mackerel with slices of avocado, then squeeze some lemon juice on top on open rye or granary bread.  These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are responsible for improving brain cell communication and regulating neurotransmitters that boost mental focus. You can pack this sandwich ahead of time and bring to school if you know you’ll be out all day.

A big salad with protein, fresh spinach and lentils: Some good protein options are grilled chicken, tuna and salmon (which is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids). Lentils are rich in vitamin B, which can help improve brainpower, while dark leafy greens such as spinach may reduce cognitive decline. This is another option for a to-go lunch; just prep everything in an airtight container with a lid and bring with you to school.

 

Snack

Tip: At some point in the afternoon, it’s normal to feel tired and reach for something sweet to get an instant sugar rush. Instead of chocolate and sweets, think of other options that you can have as a quick snack.

Walnuts: This powerful brain food improves cognitive function and can even reduce memory loss. You need less than a handful for maximum effect.

Fresh fruit: Rich in vitamin C, fruit boosts mental agility and reduces decline in the brain’s cognitive abilities. Eat it whole (apple, banana, tangerine, pear, peach) or dice several different types of fruit and eat as a fruit salad (watermelon, papaya, mango, berries, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple).

A fruit and nut mixThis mix of dried fruit and nuts can be prepared ahead of time, it’s portable so you can bring it with you to school or work, and it’s especially good for an energy boost when you feel that mid-afternoon slump.

 

Dinner

Tip: Eating pasta, pizza, potatoes, fried food and similar heavy dinner options are OK if you have them occasionally. However, if you’re focusing on studying (and especially if you’re preparing for an upcoming exam), you’ll want to have dinner that will fill you up while also giving you energy to keep working for a few more hours. Another tip: Make your own salad dressing with fresh lemon juice and olive oil–it’s rich in polyphenols, supports brain function.

Seafood: Grill, bake or sauté some salmon, mackerel, kippers or trout. These are considered oily fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to healthy brain function and reducing memory loss.

Tomato and kale salad: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may protect our cells against damage from free radicals which are linked to memory loss. Kale (as well as other dark leafy greens such as chard and spinach) is considered a superfood: it’s rich in many vitamins including A, C, and K, and promotes the resilience of brain cells; it can also positively impact our memory, attention and verbal abilities.

Sweet potatoes: They are rich in the powerful antioxidant beta carotene, which has been linked to a boost in the brain’s cognitive function. You can steam or boil them much like regular potatoes, or you can cut them into strips and bake in the oven to make sweet potato fries (spice them up with crushed or smoked paprika, pepper, thyme, oregano).

 

 

Whole grains: Rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre and omega 3 fatty acids, whole grains release glucose slowly into the bloodstream so that your brain gets a steady boost of energy. They can also promote mental alertness and improve your overall mood. Try steaming or preparing them in a rice cooker. Some examples include bulgur, brown rice, barley, whole-wheat couscous and quinoa (which is technically a seed but is prepared like a grain such as rice).

Broccoli: It is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is responsible for boosting brain power and cognitive function. Steam it for 5 minutes, just enough for it to soften without losing its rich green colour, then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, or add a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt on top for a boost of calcium.

Carrots and squash: Much like sweet potatoes, carrots and all types of squash (spaghetti, acorn, butternut) are rich in beta carotene, which helps improve memory and verbal skills. You can eat carrots raw, or you can steam or bake them. Squash is easiest to bake in the oven, either by slicing in half or cutting into large cubes and sprinkling with spices such as oregano, paprika, rosemary or whatever your own spice preference may be.

Dessert

Dark chocolate: Good news, right? There’s a reason for it! Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, which are compounds that have been linked to boosting cognitive performance. Have a couple of squares of a good dark chocolate after dinner, instead of other desserts that may be overloaded with sugar and saturated fats (included in candy bars, cakes, doughnuts).

Below are 9 foods that will help you improve your focus.

Blueberries

Studies show that blueberries boost “concentration and memory” for up to five hours because “the antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain – and keep the mind fresh”. Blueberries also contain a “cocktail of anti-oxidants including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol and tannins”, they have been shown to boost focus.

Green tea

Green tea helps you focus for two reasons: one, it contains caffeine, and two, it contains L’theanine. There is no doubt that caffeine helps you focus and improves your alertness. L’theanine “increases alpha-wave activity”, which increases tranquillity and releases caffeine more slowly, instead of all at once, which can lead to you crashing. The two ingredients also combine to “produce a better ability to focus attention, with improvement of both speed and accuracy”. If you’re able to handle the caffeine content, introducing green tea into your diet is pretty much a no-brainer, however if you have problems sleeping I’d recommend you choose decaffeinated after midday.

Avocados

Every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain, and avocados enhance blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.  Avocados are also “loaded with fibre (11 to 17 grams per avocado), which helps keep hunger pangs at bay.

Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants and carotenoids, which boost your brain power, and help protect your brain. (A good, general tip: the greener a leaf vegetable is, the better.) Leafy green vegetables are also full of B-vitamins, which are proven to help your memory, focus, and overall brain health and power. They also contain folic acid, which improves your mental clarity.

Fatty fish

Fatty/oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which “aid memory, mental performance and behavioural function”. People who are deficient in omega-3’s are more likely to have “poor memory, mood swings, depression and fatigue”. Fish has also been proven to improve your concentration and mood. The main sources of fatty fish are “salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kipper”. Aim for 3 portions a week, tinned fish is fine too.

Water

If you want to improve your focus, you need to drink enough water. Water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes, and it has been proven to help you think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity. Every single function of your body depends on water, so it is critically important that you get enough of it. Even a 2% drop in hydration can affect your concentration.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate (dark chocolate, not the sugary, milky kind) can help you focus for a number of reasons. First, it contains a small amount of caffeine, which has been proven to heighten mental alertness. It contains magnesium, which helps you de-stress, and it also stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel good and heighten your mood. This doesn’t mean you should eat a huge brick of chocolate every day, but it does mean that a few pieces each day can significantly boost your focus and mood. Go for 70% or higher.

Flax seeds

Like a few of the foods listed already, flax seeds are high in magnesium, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre, all of which aid with mental clarity and focus. Flax is no doubt a super food. Just make sure you grind them after you buy them (so your body can digest them). Unlike the other items on this list, flax seeds can’t be eaten alone, but they’re great sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, salad, and more.

Nuts

Nuts are great for your body full stop. Nuts and seeds are powerhouses of antioxidant vitamin E and lots of minerals, they are also rich with essential oils and amino acids that aid your focus. Just a palm size handful a day of unsalted mixed nuts will do the job.

Foods for Great Hair and to Prevent Hair Loss

 

Simple dietary changes can prevent distressing hair loss and thinning

Hair loss can be down to hormonal changes, a medical condition, stress or nutritional deficiencies.

Experts recommend people eat foods with antioxidant flavonoids to strengthen hair follicles, iron-rich foods to boost red blood cells, and protein- and silica-abundant foods to promote hair growth.

Mango 

This colourful fruit provides the mineral silica, which is a component of connective tissue that helps to strengthen hair and promote its growth.

Key nutrients: Silica, vitamins A, B6, and C, folate.

How to eat: Have two medium-sized slices of mango as a snack or after a meal.

Soy beans 

Foods derived from soy, such as edamame beans and tempeh, are thought to inhibit the formation of a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

An imbalance of DHT is believed to contribute to hair loss.

Key nutrients: Iron, omega-3, vitamin B2, magnesium.

How to eat: Aim for at least one 75g (2½ oz) portion a week

Eggs 

Full of protein, eggs help to boost collagen production.

Collagen surrounds hair strands, but breaks down as people age, leaving them vulnerable to breaking.

Key nutrients: Vitamins A and D, carotenes, lutein, zinc, protein.

How to eat: Enjoy a boiled or poached egg four times a week.

Kelp 

Certain nutrients in kelp, such as iron and the amino acid L-lysine, directly affect hair growth.

Iron ensures healthy red blood cell production, while L-lysine facilitates iron absorption. A deficiency in both can impact hair loss.

Key nutrients: Iron, L-lysine, zinc, vitamins B2 and B5, folate, magnesium.

How to eat: Have 10g every day to reach your nutrient quota or try a kelp supplement.

Figs 

Figs are a great source of iron, which is essential for healthy hair growth and shiny locks.

Other good sources include dried fruits and berries.

Key nutrients: Iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A and E.

How to eat: Have two figs a day.

Flaxseeds 

High in omega-3, these help nourish hair, which prevents it from drying out and becoming weak.

Key nutrients: Omega-3, vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium.

How to eat: Eat up to one tbsp a day, either as a snack or sprinkled over meals.

Pumpkin seeds 

These protein-rich seeds provide zinc, which supports cellular reproduction and enhances immunity, leading to hair growth.

Key nutrients: Zinc, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, protein.

How to eat: Eat up to one tbsp a day. Combine with flaxseeds for a nutritious mix.

Berries 

Naturally high in collagen-boosting vitamin C, berries aid iron absorption.

Vitamin C boosts scalp circulation, while its antioxidant action protects follicles from free-radical damage.

Key nutrients: Vitamin C, potassium.

How to eat: Have a handful every day.

Avocados 

Creamy avocados supply vitamin E, which increases oxygen uptake and improves circulation to the scalp to promote healthy hair growth.

Key nutrients: Vitamin E, potassium, omega-9, B-vitamins, folic acid.

How to eat: Eat one medium avocado two-to-four times a week.

Leafy greens 

Greens such as Swiss chard, watercress, spinach and cabbage, promote the production of keratin, which is a hair protein that strengthens follicles.

Key nutrients: Vitamins A, C, and K, B vitamins, potassium, folate.

How to eat: Eat a 100g (3½ oz) portion of leafy greens every day in a salad or as part of a meal.

All About Anxiety

 

Everyone feels anxious at times, it’s part of the body’s fight or flight response and prepares you to act quickly in the face of danger.  It’s normal to feel anxious in response to uncertainty, trouble or feeling unprepared, such as waiting for exam results, sitting in a job interview, or even going on a first date!

 

When anxiety becomes a problem

If anxiety becomes so severe and persistent however, that it interferes with daily life, it can be a real problem.  People living with an anxiety disorder can find themselves in a constant state of intense worry/fear/panic with common physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heart rate, breathlessness, nausea, shaking and diarrhoea.

 

Is anxiety a bigger problem than depression?

Until fairly recently, conversations around mental health have tended to focus on depression.  A recent review of 48 studies led by the University of Cambridge and published in Brain and Behaviour, found that anxiety disorders are common across all population groups, but women and young people seem to be disproportionally affected1.  Perhaps it’s a sign of our fast paced 21st century times that anxiety levels appear to have increased dramatically and being switched on 24-7 through technology?

Is imbalanced cortisol at the root of anxiety?

Cortisol is secreted by your adrenal glands as a normal part of the stress response.  It often gets a bad press yet is actually essential to your health.   Levels increase in response to stress and also follow a strong circadian rhythm – cortisol is usually at its highest first thing in the morning to help you ‘get up and go’, declines throughout the day and is at its lowest later in the evening to help you relax before sleep.  There are associations between anxiety disorders and disruptions to this natural cortisol rhythm2,3.

Does magnesium deficiency contribute to anxiety?

Investigations have demonstrated a relationship between stress reactions such as anxiety, and magnesium deficiency. Mental and physical stress cause an increase in magnesium elimination from the body4.  In a 2012 animal study published in Neuropharmacology, researchers tested the theory that magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and disrupts the normal circadian rhythm of stress hormones.  Compared with controls, magnesium deficient mice displayed anxiety-like behaviour.  Researchers also noted that magnesium deficiency caused an increase in adrenal hormones pointing to an imbalanced stress response5.  Additional data supports a relationship between low magnesium levels and both anxiety-related behaviour and a modulated stress axis6.

Sleep patterns are often disrupted in individuals with heightened anxiety; a 2001 study published in Behaviour Genetics found optimal magnesium to be necessary for normal sleep regulation7.

Magnesium – nature’s tranquiliser

Magnesium is often referred to as nature’s tranquiliser – which hints at just how important this key mineral is for supporting balanced mood, relaxation and deep sleep.

 

Good food sources; avocado, almonds, figs, dark chocolate (70%), Nuts (aim to eat one dsp day of mixed unsalted nuts), Beans (lentils, black beans, chickpeas, peas and soya beans), Tofu, Seeds, Wholegrains (oats, barley, quinoa), Fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, halibut), Bananas, Leafy Greens

B vitamins

B complex vitamins are essential for helping to cope with stress in a balanced way.  Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) in particular is found in high concentrations in the adrenal glands (the part of the body that manages the stress response).

 

Good food sources; Eggs, Liver and Chicken Liver, Brewers Yeast, Split Peas, Black Beans, Spinach, Mushrooms, Salmon, Pine Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Soya beans

Naturally support peace and calm

Anxiety is fast becoming a modern epidemic and it is likely that an imbalanced stress response with elevated cortisol has a part to play.  A typical Western diet fails to supply magnesium in high enough quantities to fully support health; especially when chronic stress is added into the mix.  Supplementing with high strength magnesium maybe helpful if necessary. If you are continuously anxious and having problems sleeping it is advisable to see your GP.

Consider Meditation, Mindfulness & Yoga

There is a growing understanding that a daily meditation practice even for a few minutes including deep rhythmic breathing and clearing the mind can have profound effects on reducing stress and feelings of anxiety.  Start by simply closing your eyes wherever you are when you are feeling anxious and breathing in deeply for a count of 5, hold the breath for a count of 5 and breathe out for 7.  Try doing as regularly as possible and notice an improved sense of calm. Try to work up to 20 minutes a day if possible.

 

Flow and Yin Yoga are also incredibly effective at bringing a sense of calm and tranquillity to the mind and body.  Again, regular practice even 10 minutes a day can be really helpful.  There are lots of Apps that can show you some simple yoga moves and pranayama – yogic breathing which induces a sense of tranquillity.

 

 

References:

  • Remes, O et al. A systematic review of reviews on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in adult populations.  Brain and Behaviour; 6 June 2016; DOI: 10.1002/brb3.497
  • Adam EK, Kendall AD et al. Prospective Associations between the cortisol awakening response and first onsets of anxiety disorders over a six year follow up – 2013 Curt Richter Award Winner.  Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Jun; 44: 47-59 published online 2014 Mar 12. Doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.02.014
  • Vreeberg SA, Zitman FG et al. Salivary cortisol levels in persons with and without different anxiety disorders.  Psychosom Med. 2010 May; 72(4):340-7. Doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181d2f0c8. Epub 2010 Feb 26
  • Tarasov EA, Blinov DV et al. Magnesium deficiency and stress: Issues of their relationship, diagnostic tests, and approaches to therapy]. Ter Arkh 2015; 87(9):114-22
  • Sartori SB, Whittle N et al.  Magnesium deficiency induces anxiety and HPA axis dysregulation: modulation by therapeutic drug treatment.  Neuropharmacology. 2012 Jan:62(1): 304-12. Doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.07.027. Epub 2011 Aug 4
  • Laarakker M.C., van Lith H.A., Ohl F. Behavioral characterization of A/J and C57BL/6J mice using a multidimensional test: association between blood plasma and brain magnesium-ion concentration with anxiety.  Behav. 2011;102:205–219.
  • Chollett D, Franken P et al. Magnesium involvement in sleep: genetic and nutritional models. Behav Genet 2001 Sep; 31(5):413-25

 

How to Optimise your Health and Wellbeing – FIT 8 Rehabilitation Personal Training Clinic

 

Every one of us can achieve and experience a profound sense of health and wellbeing by laying the foundation with a healthy diet. Health isn’t just an absence of illness, it’s the abundance of vitality.  This is characterised by a consistent, clear and high level of energy, emotional balance, a sharp mind, a desire to maintain physical fitness and a direct awareness of what suits our bodies, what enhances our health and what our needs are.  This state of health includes resilience to infectious diseases and protection from the major killer diseases such as heart disease and cancer. It consequently means slowing down the ageing process and living a long and healthy life.

Imagine that you are born with a health reserve – a certain amount of money in your health deposit account.  Depending what you eat, drink, breathe and think, gradually money is lost from that health deposit account.  Once you get overdrawn your energy is low, you can’t get out of bed in the morning and you suffer from niggling health problems, from colds to PMS.  As your overdraft grows you develop diseases and when you exceed your overdraft limit, that’s when you die.

Take a look at the table below.  Where are you?  A great number of people fall into the vertically ill category – lacking energy and enthusiasm for life.  How would it be to sit comfortably and consistently in the Healthy category – full of energy in both mind and body?  By building up your health reserve, not only do you not get sick but also experience what it is to feel Healthy, with plenty of capacity to adapt to stressful times.

 

HEALTHY VERTICALLY

ILL

HORIZONTALLY ILL
Boundless energy

Perspective on life

Sharp mind

Positive outlook

Joie de vivre

Physically fit
Rarely/never ill
Full life contentment

Constant tiredness
Drained

Low concentration

Mood swings

Unfit

Run down and
frequently ill

Easily overwhelmed

Chronic fatigue
Exhausted
Constant aches

Depression

Pessimism

Unable to exercise

Incapacitated by illness

Life is hard work

 

Really good nutrition, seeks to perfect the balance of the body on a chemical level.  It is very simply giving yourself the best possible intake of nutrients to allow your body to be as healthy as possible and to work as well as it can.  Even minor changes to your eating habits can lead to major changes in your health.  Your body has an amazing capacity to heal itself if given the proper resources to work with.

We are continuously bombarded with messages about healthy eating but how many of us really understand what the messages are saying?  Our nutritionist has helped us to formulate the F.I.T. Nutritional Program.  It consists of 3 phases: Normalize, Stabilize & Functionalize. These three phases will give you very simple basic advice to help you achieve vitality through a good diet and a healthy digestive system.

Phase 1 – NORMALISE

EAT REGULARLY – DON’T SKIP MEALS

Studies show that Western cultures are moving away from eating regular meals.  This trend adversely affects health by altering the way the body breaks down fats and sugars, leading to increases in insulin and cholesterol.  Insulin is the catalyst for the creation of new fat cells and inhibits the breakdown of fat.  So long term skipping meals can lead to weight gain, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Summary: Don’t skip meals. Eat 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks a day. It’s a great way to speed up your metabolism.

GET HYDRATED!

The body is consists of 60% to 70% water. Since most of your body is water, we need lots of fresh water every day to stay healthy. Every function in your body takes place in water. It is the solvent that removes the nutrients, hormones, antibodies and oxygen through your blood stream and lymphatic system. Water is also necessary to move the waste out of your body. If you are not drinking enough water, your body has to recycle dirty water and every metabolic function in your body does not work as efficiently.

Summary: Drink 2-2.5 liters of filtered water or herbal teas a day.  Avoid carbonated drinks which leach calcium from your bones!

HOW ARE YOUR BOWELS?

Do your bowels open daily, if not you will be reabsorbing toxins affecting your long term health and vitality and putting strain on your liver and kidneys.  White foods (bread, biscuits, cakes, pasta) and cooked cheese are all very constipating!

Helpful hint: Try a tablespoon of linseeds in your porridge or cereal every morning, followed by a large glass of water and eat high fiber foods such as apples and pears. If that doesn’t work try taking 2 x psyllium husk capsules a day and get moving to stimulate your bowels.

HOW’S YOUR DIGESTION?

Do you get lots of bloating, wind or heartburn?  Make sure you chew your food thoroughly and sit down to eat to avoid indigestion.  Does it happen after eating a particular food, if so avoid this food for 10 days and see if this improves, you may well have sensitivity to that food and have difficulty digesting it.  Try to eat some fresh raw foods every day, as they contain enzymes which aid your digestion and are a great source of vitamins and minerals.

Summary:  Try increasing your stomach acid by drinking a little warm water and 1/2 a squeezed lemon before each meal.  Alternatively try a digestive enzyme with HCL with meals, it will help digest foods taking the strain off your tummy and easing any bloating or discomfort you may be suffering.

BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

One of the key areas to feeling really good every day is to stabilise your blood sugar levels.  Trying to avoid High GI foods such as cornflake, white bread (baguettes) and pasta can really help you achieve consistent energy levels, prevent mood swings and sugar cravings. Low GI foods such as whole grains, oats, nuts & berries all trickle glucose slowing into your blood stream keeping your energy levels balanced with the added benefit of making you feel fuller for longer.

Summary:  Keep the list of Normalise foods on your fridge and don’t buy the ORANGE foods, it’s a good idea for all the family to “avoid” these foods.

EAT PROTEIN WITH YOUR CARBS

Eating meals low in protein and high in carbohydrates such as a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce is more than likely to leave you lethargic, hungry soon after and craving something sweet.  Make sure you include protein with each meal and snack.  Choose a chicken salad with new potatoes instead of a chicken sandwich.

Summary: Snack on pumpkin or sunflower seeds or nuts when you eat some fruit.  When eating shop bought sandwiches simply ditch the 2 x 1/2 slices of bread in the middle to make a protein rich sandwich rather than a carbohydrate rich lunch.

PLAN YOUR MEALS

Planning your meals will cut down on your trips to your favorite fast food restaurant and save you money in the process. Meals prepared at home tend to be higher in all nutrients, including fibre, calcium, iron, and vitamins B6, B12, C, and E. They are also generally lower in saturated and trans fats. When you plan your meals include some good quality protein such chicken, eggs, beans as well as a variety of salads and vegetables.

Helpful hint: Try shopping online to avoid tempting ‘isle distractions’ – you’ll save money and cut down on calories to!

EAT TO YOUR RMR

Based on the result of the metabolic profiling you should aim to eat your recommended calories aiming to never over or under consume. This will help you achieve a consistent healthy weight that is right for you. You should login to your own nutritional page and use the nutritional calculator to work out calories consumed.

Summary: Don’t finish everything on your plate, stop when you feel full.
Eat slowly and enjoy each mouthful.

Common Sense Rules for BETTER Nutrition
1)     Eat less in a calm environment (leave 1/3 of your plate)

2)     Eat 3 small meals a day with 2 snacks

3)     Eat more fruits and vegetables

4)     Drink more water

5)     Eat fish regularly (> 3 x week)

6)     Limit sweets and grains

7)     Exercise daily (helps what goes in go out and increases your metabolic rate)

8)     Cut out artificial sweeteners 

NORMALISE FOODS

FOODS AVOID GO AHEAD
BEANS ý  Broad

ý  Refried bean

ý  Baked Beans (regular)

ü  All beans (tinned and dried)

ü  Baked Beans (whole-earth, no added sugar)

ü  Black eyed peas

ü  Chick Peas

ü  Soybeans

ü  Split Peas/lentils

Beverages ý  Alcoholic drinks

ý  Fruit drinks

ý  Milk (whole)

ý  Regular coffee

ý  Soft drinks and cordials

ý  Sweetened juices

ü  Water

ü  Milk Skimmed

ü  Soya milk – unsweetened

ü  Rice milk

ü  Almond milk

Breads ý  Bagels

ý  Baguette/croissants

ý  Cake/biscuits

ý  Cereal/granola bars

ý  Scones/crumpets

ý  Hamburger buns

ý  Melba Toast

ý  Muffins

ý  Pancakes/waffles

ý  Pizza

ý  Stuffing

ý  Tortillas

ý  White Bread

ý  Melba toast

ý  Cream Crackers

ü  100% Stone ground wholemeal

ü  Multigrain

ü  Granary

ü  Wholegrain high fibre breads

ü  Sourdough bread

Cereals ý  Cornflakes

ý  Shredded wheat

ý  Bran flakes

ý  Just right

ý  Special K

ý  Sultan Bran

ý  Cheerios

ý  Fruit / cereal bars

ü  Porridge

ü  Millet porridge

ü  Oat bran

ü  Weetabix

Grains ý  Couscous

ý  Millet

ý  Rice (short grain white instant)

ý  Rice cakes

ý  Croutons

 

ü  Rice (brown, wild, red or basmati)

ü  Barley

ü  Buckwheat

ü  Bulgar

ü  Wheat grain

ü  Quinoa

ü  Amaranth

Condiments/
Seasoning
ý  Ketchup

ý  Mayonnaise

ý  Tartar sauces

ü  Garlic

ü  Herbs/Spices

ü  Hummus

ü  Mayonnaise (fat free)

ü  Mustard

ü  Soy sauce (low sodium)

ü  Teriyaki sauce

ü  Vinegar

ü  Worcestershire Sauce

Dairy ý  Cheese

ý  Chocolate milk

ý  Cottage Cheese (regular)

ý  Cream / Sour Cream

ý  Cream Cheese

ý  Milk (whole)

ý  Yoghurt (fruit/flavour)

ü  Skimmed milk
Fats and Oils ý  Butter

ý  Coconut oil

ý  Margarine

ý  Lard

ý  Mayonnaise

ý  Palm oil

ý  Peanut butter

ý  Salad dressings

ü  Almonds

ü  Walnuts

ü  Brazil nuts

ü  Cashew nuts

ü  Hazelnuts

ü  Flax seeds

ü  Macadamia nuts

ü  Pumpkin seeds

ü  Sunflower seeds

ü  Olive oil

ü  Sunflower oil

Fresh fruit

 

N.B. AVIOD ALL FRUITS JUICES

 

ý  Cantaloupe melon

ý  Dates

ý  Honeydew melon

ý  Raisins

ý  Watermelon

ý  Dried Fruit

ý  Banana

ü  Apples

ü  Blackberries

ü  Blueberries

ü  Cherries

ü  Grapefruit

ü  Grapes

ü  Lemons

ü  Oranges

ü  Peaches

ü  Plums

ü  Pears

ü  Raspberries

ü  Strawberries
Aim to eat the whole fruit wherever possible

DRIED FRUITS – A modest amount can be use in home baking  


FOODS AVOID GO AHEAD
Meat, Poultry, fish, eggs, Soya ý  Minced beef

ý  Hamburgers

ý  Hot dogs

ý  Processed meats (e.g. ham, salami etc)

ý  Regular bacon

ý  Sausages

ý  Whole regular eggs

ý  Sushi with rice

ü  All seafood fresh frozen or tinned (avoid battered or breaded)

ü  Skinless Chicken

ü  Lean Beef

ü  Omega3 eggs

ü  Quorn

ü  Sashimi

ü  Tofu

ü  Turkey breast

ü  Veal

Pasta

 

N.B. Aim to eat whole wheat or egg base pasta

ý  All tinned pasta

ý  Gnocchi

ý  Macaroni cheese

ý  Filled pasta e.g. tortellini with meat or cheese

ý  Rice noodles

ü  Fettuccini

ü  Macaroni

ü  Penne

ü  Spaghetti/linguine

ü  Vermicelli

ü  Wholegrain noodles

ü  Soba noodles

Pasta Sauces ý  Alfredo

ý  Sauces with added meat or cheese

ý  Sauces with added sugar or sucrose

ý  Creamy sauces e.g. carbonara

ü  Light Sauces with vegetables (no added sugar)

ü  Tomato based sauces

Soups ý  All cream based soups

ý  Tinned black bean

ý  Tinned green pea

ý  Tinned split pea

All home made soups – make sure you add beans, chicken, or lentils. (e.g. chunky bean and vegetable soup)
Sugar and Sweeteners

 

N.B. Avoid all artificial sweeteners

ý  Honey

ý  Sugar

ý  Syrup

ý  Treacle

ý  Molasses

Use Zylatol or Fruitana sparingly
(from vegetable and fruit sources both very low GI)
Vegetables ý  Broad beans

ý  French Fries

ý  Hash Browns

ý  Parsnips

ý  Swede

ý  Turnip

ý  Squash

ý  Beetroot

ý  Potatoes (instant)

ý  Potatoes (mashed or baked)

ü  Asparagus

ü  Aubergine

ü  Beans

ü  Peppers

ü  Broccoli

ü  Brussel sprouts

ü  Cabbage

ü  Carrots

ü  Onions

ü  Olives

ü  Peas

ü  Pickles

ü  Cauliflower

 

 

Note: Artificial Sweeteners‘low-sugar’, ‘diet’, or ‘low-calorie’ foods and drinks usually contain chemical sweeteners, such as aspartame.  Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar and can lead to binge eating and cravings.  It has also been linked to mood swings and depression because it alters the levels of the brain chemical serotonin.  The following symptoms are all associated with regular aspartame consumption; mood swings, memory loss, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, headaches, depression, skin problems such as urticaria and rashes, seizures and convulsions, eye problems, nausea and vomiting.

ANAEMIA – signs and symptoms to look out for

If you are a teenage girl in the UK you have an increased risk for developing iron-deficiency anaemia.  Current statistics in the UK show 44% of girls aged between 11-14 and 48% of girls aged between 15-18 have low intakes of iron in their diet. Vegetarians and Vegans are at further risk for iron deficiency because iron from plant foods is not as well absorbed as iron from animal sources.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of anaemia are primarily related to oxygen transport. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to all cells in the body. Iron is an integral component of haemoglobin. Iron deficiency anaemia causes a drop in red blood cells and haemoglobin. As the haemoglobin levels drop below normal, symptoms begin to appear.

Fatigue, Pallor, Rapid Heartbeat

The most common symptom of iron deficiency in teenagers is fatigue. The decrease in available oxygen because of inadequate haemoglobin means the body’s cells cannot carry out their metabolic functions. Red blood cells provide the normal pink colour to the skin, so a person with anaemia may be pale. Your heart will beat faster because it’s trying to get the required amount of oxygen to the body by speeding up the circulation.

Other Symptoms

Even before anaemia develops, iron deficiency can affect your mental functions. You may have difficulty concentrating, remembering things or learning something new. As iron deficiency anaemia progresses, you may feel tired all the time and short of breath. Climbing stairs or exercising can become a major effort, because your body cannot respond to the extra demand for oxygen. Headaches are another symptom of iron deficiency anaemia. You may feel cold all the time, have an inflamed tongue or be more susceptible to infections.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Blood tests can determine iron levels in the body, the number of red blood cells you have and the level of your haemoglobin. Iron deficiency may be corrected by dietary changes however you may also need iron supplements.

Dietary Sources

The recommended dietary allowance for iron is 11 milligrams for teen boys and 15 milligrams daily for teen girls.

Haem Iron-rich foods for teens include lean red meats, poultry, fish and other seafood, egg yolks. Meat proteins and vitamin C increase the body’s ability to absorb iron.

Non-haem iron such as dried beans, lentils, peas, broccoli, spinach, beans, fortified cereals, breads and whole grains.

Consume only small amounts of tea and coffee, as these can interfere with iron absorption.

100g Minced Beef = 2.7mg, 50g Salmon = 0.8mg, 100g Tuna in brine = 1.0mg, 100g Chicken Breast = 0.8mg, 42g Quinoa = 3.9mg, 2 slices Wholemeal Bread = 1.9mg, 100mg Liver Pate 5.9mg, 100g Eggs = 2.2mg, 100g Chickpeas = 2mg, 100g Dried apricots/figs = 3.5mg, 100g Almonds = 3mg, 100g Peanut Butter = 2.1mg, 100g Sesame Seeds = 10.4mg, 100g Sunflower Seeds = 6.4mg, 100g Spinach = 1.6mg

Food for the Brain

The escalation of mental ill-health represents one of the most concerning challenges in the 21st century burden of disease. The cost of mental ill health in the U.K. now outweighs that of heart disease or cancer, the two most prevalent common causes of death.  An article recently published in Lancet Psychiatry by members of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research argues that nutrition should be prominent in the treatment and prevention of mental disorders.  This Lancet Psychiatry article stresses the great importance of educating the public about the impact of diet and nutrition on mental health.4

 

Brain development, maintenance and function are greatly affected by the foods that we eat. It is essential that the diet during adolescence contains a broad range of nutrients that allow the brain to work at its optimum level. Nutrition not only impacts the ability to learn, but can also affect mental health. With anxiety and depression rising in the teenage population it is important to equip them and their parents with the knowledge to feed their brains properly. Educating adolescents about what an overall healthy balanced diet looks like and promoting this, along with key health messages about how nutrition can impact the brain, is vital.4

 

Studies observed a consistent trend for the relationship between good-quality diet and better mental health. A habitually poor diet (e.g., increased consumption of Western processed foods) is also associated with a greater likelihood of or risk for depression and anxiety.1

 

There are numerous potential biological pathways by which diet quality may have an impact on mental health in children and adolescents. For example, the

dietary intake of folate, zinc, and magnesium is inversely associated with depressive disorders, whereas dietary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are inversely related to anxiety disorders. 1

Given that the average age of onset for anxiety and mood disorders is 6 years and 13 years, respectively, the potential for early intervention using strategies targeted at improving dietary intake at a population level may be of substantial public health benefit.1

“Higher seafood consumption omega-3 has been associated with lower rates of depression, post-natal depression or bipolar disorders.”

Our brains are 60% fats, the type of fat we consume in our diet is very important. Polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3s) are vital components of cell membranes. This is called an essential fat, we lose approximately 5gm a day, if we don’t replace it in our diet we can see behavioural changes in brain function, potentially altering our concentration, mood, motivation and communication.

We should aim to consume oily fish twice a week and other fish once a week to achieve the levels of omega 3 required for optimal brain function. If you cannot eat or tolerate fish, a high quality pure fish oil supplement such as Bare Biology containing both DHA and EPA is essential.

“Lower levels of omega-3 and higher levels of omega-6 have also been associated with suicidal behaviour and anti-social/aggressive disorders, the latter in both criminal populations and wider society.”

Meal and Snack Ideas;

 

Smoked mackerel pate

Combine one packet of smoked mackerel with 2 dsp of half fat crème fraiche, squeeze of lemon juice and mash with a fork or blitz in the food processor.  This can be eaten with vegetable sticks as a snack, on toast for breakfast, on crackers for a snack or in sandwiches for lunch.

Wild salmon fishcakes

Remove the skin and bones from a 400g tin of wild salmon.  Crush one cup of cooked new potatoes and combine with the fish and a cup of cooked peas.  Use your hands to shape into fish cakes, coat in egg and fresh breadcrumbs and pop under the grill for 8 minutes on either side.

Pizza Salmon

Dress fresh wild salmon with a little pesto, fresh tomato sauce and some grated parmesan.  Pop under the grill for 10 minutes and its ready to serve.

Tuna and Sweetcorn sweet potatoe

Such an easy one, combine tinned tuna with a small tin of unsweetened sweetcorn, add 1 dsp of mayo and combine.  This can be used as a filling for sandwiches or jacket potatoes or use in a salad. Don’t over do it on tuna as it can contain high levels of contaminants such as mercury. Consume no more than once a week ideally.

Other ideas;

Add Anchovies to salads, pizza, and sandwiches

Use tinned mackerel, sardines and pop on crackers for easy healthy snacks

References and further reading;

 

  1. Relationship Between Diet and Mental Health in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review O’Neill

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4167107/#

2.   Diet quality and mental health problems in adolescents from East London: a prospective study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23160714#

  1. A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial investigating the behavioural effects of vitamin, mineral and n-3 fatty acid supplementation in typically developing adolescent schoolchildren

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/volume/journal-bjn-volume-115/7D017D191425A65975A4DC8C251E5DE4 

  1. Institute for Food, Brain and Behaviour

http://www.ifbb.org.uk

 



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