New Year New You?!

new yearIt is the time of year that many of us are looking at how we can make positive changes to ourselves and our lives. We often start the new year with a big list of things we want to change and this can often be overwhelming and unrealistic.

Many of us want to become more fit and healthy and this can include losing some of the Christmas weight we have put on in the last month or so.

So here are a few tips to help with weight loss and healthy eating:

  • Cut out refined sugars: Our bodies can not process all the extra sugars that we have in our modern diets. Sugar that is not used up for energy is stored as fat, especially around the middle of the body. Look out for hidden sugar in sauces, tinned soups and many processed foods.
  • Include plenty of healthy proteins such as eggs, nuts, seeds, fish and quinoa as these help to balance blood sugar levels and which can decrease the amount of fat your body stores.
  • Increase healthy fats (fat doesn’t make you fat, carbohydrates and sugars do) and green leafy vegetables.
  • Reduce all processed foods and refined carbohydrates. Focus on complex carbohydrates such as brown basmati rice and oats, but eat in moderation.
  • Reduce stress: When we are stressed our bodies release hormones which pump sugar into our blood to give us energy. Part of the fight or flight system. If we are not using this sugar as energy it is stored as fat.  Try yoga or meditation and make time for the things that you enjoy.
  • Exercise: We all know this one! It doesn’t need to be high intensity or overwhelming. Even walking can help to burn off fat.
  • Drink plenty of plain water and herbal teas.

Check out my weight loss programme for more information on how I can help you create a personalised programme.:

Weight Loss Programme

Winter Wellness

pumpkin

The clocks have changed, the beautiful colours of autumn are all around us and the weather is getting colder. It is that time of year again when cold and flu become more widespread and we start thinking about how we can boost our immunity. So here are a few of my favourite immune supporting supplements and foods that can help at this time of the year.

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin. I am sure we have all heard about how great this vitamin is by now. Our bodies produce Vitamin D when UV rays reach our skin, something that is quite rare in this country, especially in the winter! Research has shown that Vitamin D can help to support our immune systems and those with adequate amounts are less likely to suffer with frequent colds during the winter months. I would recommend taking between 1000-4000mg of Vitamin D daily.

Vitamin C and Zinc: Vitamin C and Zinc have also shown to improve our immunity and reduce the severity of a cold. I often recommend that people can take higher amounts of Vitamin C during a cold as the body will use what it needs and excrete what it doesn’t (if you get loose stools you are probably taking too much).

Herbs: Echinacea is a commonly used herb for this time of year as well. There have been lots of studies that show how this herb can increase the productivity of our immune cells. Another herb that I recommend a lot when working in health food shops is Bronchoforce by Vogel. It contains Ivy, Thyme and liquorice and can help to break down excess mucous and catarrh in the respiratory tract. It is great for chesty coughs and I have seen great results with it. Plantago by Vogel is another great herb and can be used for sinus congestion, middle ear infections and catarrh. It is a natural antibiotic and can help to reduce ear infections.

Dietary Changes: Sugar can actually decrease the activity of the immune system so the less processed sugar during an illness the better. Focus on low GI fruits such as berries, apples and pears. Reduce all processed foods as much as possible and focus on wholegrains, green leafy vegetables, healthy proteins and a rainbow diet. Colourful foods are rich in the vitamins and minerals we need to fight infection so aim for as many colours of the rainbow as possible.

These are just a few of my favourites, there are so many great supplements that can help to support immunity. We are all very different and what works for one person may not be the right thing for someone else. Also some supplements can interfere with medications so always check with your pharmacist if you are unsure.

For an individualised programme please do get in touch.

I wish you all a happy and healthy November!

Sarah

Modern Children

cerealChildhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years and the UK has seen the highest rate of obesity in Western Europe. Figures from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) show that up to 79% of children who are obese in their early teens are also likely to remain obese as adults. This puts them at risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The British Nutritional Foundation has also recently published a report which reviews the impact of current dietary and lifestyle habits of school children. Highlights of the report include;

  • Around a 5th of 11 to 18 year olds showed evidence of low vitamin D status
  • One third of girls from the same age range had low iron levels
  • Only 9% were consuming the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (although intake is increasing in four to ten tear olds).

This is likely to be the result of the highly refined foods our children are bombarded with nowadays. Food aimed at children is often high in sugar, including so called ‘natural sugars’ such as fructose. These sugars are isolated from the fibres found in the fruit themselves and can contribute to weight gain.

Refined foods are commonplace in kitchens across the county nowadays. As well as being full of sugar they have been stripped of all vitamins and minerals, the manufacturers then have to add them back in. Leading to claims such as ‘added vitamin D’. They usually use cheap man made versions of these nutrients which the body can find difficult to absorb.

Whole Foods.

Foods as nature intended, you know the ingredients because you can see them! These natural food are full of the vitamins and minerals that are so important for children’s development. They also contain fibre which slows the release of sugars into the body, reducing the risk of weight gain.

Making changes

Breakfast is always a really good place to start

  • Try porridge with mashed banana and ground cashews
  • Sugar free muesli with blueberries
  • Egg and soldiers
  • Banana and mixed berry smoothie with ground cashews

Other things to consider;

  • Swap white bread, pasta and rice for brown.
  • Swap sugary snack for fruit and nuts or oat cakes and almond butter
  • Homemade food is always best as you know the ingredients. You can blend sauces with vegetables for those fussy eaters and freeze in batches for easy meals.

Please do get in touch if you would like any further advice.

I offer  family consultations which include meal plans, recipes and shopping lists as well as individual plans for children with specific health issues.

 

 

 

 

 

Hay Fever time again

hayfeverHay fever is an allergy, a disorder of the immune system in which it decides harmless substances such as pollen are dangerous. White blood cells are activated and histamine released resulting in inflammation and leading to skin rashes, excess mucous, steaming and itching eyes and nose.

Vitamin C promotes a healthy immune system and helps to reduce an allergic reaction. It is also anti-inflammatory and acts as a natural anti-histamine so it can help to reduce the symptoms of hay fever.

You can take 1,000mg (1 gram) of vitamin C twice a day but if symptoms are severe you can increase this to 1 gram four times a day. It is important to choose a good quality supplement that is well absorbed. I suggest visiting your local independent health food shop.

Vitamin C foods contain bioflavonoids which help to absorb vitamin C. These include peppers, strawberries, kiwi fruit, broccoli, blueberries, parsley and kale.

Quercetin regulates histamine production and promotes a healthy inflammatory response. It can be found in red onions, apples and berries. Supplements can offer around 500mg and this can be taken up to 3 times a day while symptoms are severe.

Vitamin E can also help to reduce inflammation and is found in wheatgerm, fish, nuts, eggs, linseeds, avocado and pumpkin seeds.

Local honey (produced by bees in your area). The allergy may be to specific pollen from plants growing in a particular area. If the honey contains minute quantities of that pollen eating the honey little and often may help to desensitise the body.

Certain foods can be reduced or avoided to help alleviate symptoms;

Dairy is mucous forming so is best avoided; alternatives include rice, oat, soy and nut milks.

Wheat allergy and intolerance are common. The gluten in wheat can be mistaken for an allergen by a hyper-sensitive immune system. The symptoms of wheat allergy are similar to those of hayfever. People with hayfever often react to the gluten in wheat. Try replacing it with rye, oats, barley, quinoa, millet and buckwheat (actually from the rhubarb family).

Refined and processed foods, colourings and additives place an added strain on the liver as it has to filter the extra toxins from the body.

Alcohol, black tea and coffee deplete the absorption of minerals and also strain the liver. If you are drinking alcohol make sure you are including water. Alternatives to tea and coffee include green tea, rooibos, herbal teas such as nettle, chamomile and dandelion coffee.

 

 

April is IBS Awareness Month

ibsIn the UK 13% of women and 5% of men are effected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a collection of symptoms which effect the digestive system. This makes IBS the most common gastrointestinal disorder. It is, however, poorly understood with no evidence of what causes it and no known cure. Symptoms can vary from person to person but can include abdominal pain/spasms, gas, bloating, diarrhea alternating with constipation.

There are often several contributing factors that lead to the development of IBS. An overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, parasite or candida infection, food sensitivities, coeliac disease, lactose intolerance, hormonal imbalances, stress and environmental sensitivities can all play a role in the development of the disease.

Nutritional therapy can be a very effective tool for anyone suffering with these type of symptoms. As each person is unique and the causes are varied the therapist will take a comprehensive case history and identify the triggers for each individual person. Functional testing can help to uncover food sensitivities as well as look more deeply into an individuals digestive function.

It is estimated that around one half to two thirds of people with IBS have food sensitivities. Elimination diets can be helpful and common triggers include wheat, corn, dairy, lactose, coffee, tea, citrus fruit and chocolate.

Once triggers are identified and removed digestive enzymes, probiotics and gut healing supplements can help to restore a healthy and functioning digestive system.

Stress can also effect the digestive system. Breathing techniques, meditation, exercise, yoga relaxation can all help.

 

 

Dark Chocolate is good for your heart

Scientists at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have found that dark chocolate (containing 70% cocoa solids) helps to reduce cardiovascular disease.

The study found that the chocolate restored flexibility to the arteries and prevented white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels, which leads to inflammation. Both these factors play a key role in Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which is a major risk for heart disease. choc

Ancient wheat may improve digestive symptoms

A new study by the British Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that those suffering fromImage digestive problems and IBS may see an improvement in symptoms by switching from modern wheat to an ancient grain such as Kamut or Spelt.

Modern wheat has been bred for hardiness and pest resistance. Some believe that this results in the plant becoming toxic, resulting in digestive complaints in many people.

The study took a number of people with IBS and showed that those given modern wheat had elevated inflammation. Their digestive symptoms remained the same.

Those given the ancient grain had a significant reduction in inflammation markers along with reduced symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and improved stool consistency.

So if you suffer with digestive symptoms it may be worth giving the ancient grains a go!