Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

carbs are bad

Nutrition Myths: Carbs Are Bad For You

For decades, fat was the enemy, but today the media has found a new scapegoat: Carbs…

And generalizing about carbs and insulin seems to get more popular by the year. In fact, in the eyes of many, the glycemic index and the insulin index seem to rank foods by how dangerous they are. Like cholesterol, insulin is misunderstood as being unilaterally harmful.

Yet our bodies need and produce both substances. Cholesterol serves to make pregnenolone, and from there many other hormones, such as testosterone. Insulin is required to store glucose (the sugar in your blood) or use it for energy; it was one of the very first hormones to be discovered, and the first to be investigated in the context of sensitivity.

Early evidence suggested that carbs caused insulin insensitivity. This can be true in diabetics and in insulin-resistant people overeating carbs, but not in healthy people on a healthy diet. This said, there is no denying that modern society makes it very easy to overeat carbs: Processed carbs are often delicious and seldom very filling, despite being high in calories.

Cutting carbs (especially processed carbs) can be a viable fat-loss decision, if it helps you eat less. But if cutting carbs makes you miserable and always hungry, you should consider other options. If you wish to lose weight, what matters is not to replace fat by carbs or carbs by fat, but to end most days on a calorie deficit.

The Truth: Carbohydrates have been vilified long enough. As long as you don’t overindulge, starches are not inherently harmful.


These Three Nutrients May Help You Sleep

Recent research has shown that missing a few hours’ sleep each night can have a dramatic effect on your immune system and overall health.

We all know that when we’re tired we can more easily come down with a cold or flu and this is because our immune system is not working at its optimum. Too little sleep can also result in weight gain. Chronic sleep deprivation, can make you feel hungrier than normal and trigger weight gain by affecting the way your body processes and stores carbohydrate. Here are three nutrients that may help with insomnia:

1. Magnesium: This mineral is known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and has a calming relaxing effect on the body in general. It is particularly helpful if your sleep is being disturbed by cramps as it is a muscle relaxant.

2. Theanine: This amino acid comes from green tea and not only helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also a deeper sleep at night.

3. Tryptophan: Your body needs this amino acid in order to make serotonin, the relaxing and calming brain neurotransmitter. Tryptophan occurs naturally in fish, whole grains, chickpeas, almonds, eggs, bananas, dates and organic dairy.

Oily Fish and Depression

If you suffer from low mood it is worth checking that you are getting enough fish in your diet.

Oily Fish and Depression…

A team of scientists from the Medical College of Qingdao University in China recently published a study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health that shows a link between depression and fish in the diet.

The research was very comprehensive: it analysed data from over 150,000 people from 26 studies that were carried out between 2001 – 2014. Of the 26 studies, 12 showed a direct correlation between frequent fish consumption and depression with those who ate the most fish having as much as 17% reduced risk of depression.

Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel and sardines, are a great source of omega-3s that are vital for brain health.

B Vitamins may tackle depression

Research has also been published in the medical journal Maturitas. The results of the research showed that many sufferers of depression had a Vitamin B deficiency. They also found links between the B vitamins, the immune system and depression. It is thought that low levels of the B vitamins lead to a weaker immune system which could be a contributing factor to depression. A Vitamin B complex could therefore be something worth bearing in mind for anyone with any feelings of depression.


Creating Healthy Work Habits

Don’t let being in an office stand in the way of eating foods that are good for you. Here’s my guide to creating healthy work habits:

1. Stay hydrated. Bring a big bottle of water to work and fill it up. Make sure you drink from it regularly throughout the day.

2. Be prepared. Make up your healthy snacks in advance. Portion nuts, seeds and dried fruit into little containers or small snack bags.

3. Avoid the dreaded slump. Make sure you include protein with good carbohydrates (wholegrains or fibre-rich fruit and vegetables) to keep your blood sugar stable. Try rice cakes and oatcakes with nut butter or tahini, hummus and veggies.

4. Don’t fuel yourself on caffeine. Too much caffeine can knock your blood sugar out of balance and it can also make your body react as though it is stressed. Bring in your own herbal teas if there are none available at work.

5. If you really struggle to make time to drink water or have something to eat set discreet reminders.

If you find yourself having problems with emotional eating and weight loss, book an appointment with me (sessions are available via Skype and in-person).

good nutrition advice

Psychology of a Perfect Diet

Many of us with an interest in nutrition and health make the assumption that there must be a perfect diet: a perfect way to eat, a perfect nutritional system, the one way of consuming food that trumps all other approaches.

I know I used to. If you follow this thinking, all you need do is discover this one perfect diet and you’ll hit the jackpot. By finding the perfect diet, you can have perfect health, perfect weight, perfect energy, perfect looks, and live forever…

So, who wouldn’t want to find this perfect diet?

Now this may sound like a bit of an exaggeration, and I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek here – but the reality is, I see far too many people, including experts, who take this dogmatic stance — there has to be one perfect diet… 

Think Like a Thin Person, Lose Weight and Keep it Off

Weight loss is not about what you eat, it’s about why and how you eat.

So many of us struggle to feel comfortable and confident with our body and I really think it’s time to change this. So today I want to share with you some powerful insights into how thin people think and how it can help you lose weight without dieting.

Please take just five minutes right now and read this post. You’ll be glad you did. By the time you’ve finished reading this you will have the tools you need to start ‘thinking thin’. I promise you, weight loss will be a joyous consequence… Read More…

nutrition advice

Health Benefits of Taking a Nap

Make like a Mediterranean and have a siesta, it could be great for your health.

A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology explores the benefits of taking a nap. The team of scientists led by Dr Kallistratos from Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens monitored 386 participants (200 men and 186 women – average age 61.4 years old).

All of them had hypertension. The researchers recorded a number of things including sleep time, blood pressure, lifestyle habits, BMI (Body Mass Index) and echocardiographic measurements.

The results showed that sleeping for 60 minutes after a midday meal gave an average blood pressure reading (over 24 hours) that was 4mm of mercury lower and the participants’ blood pressure continued to drop by 2% and used less medication.

I know that it’s not realistic to imagine that everyone has the luxury of taking a nap for an hour after lunch, but if you’re able to do it at the weekend or on a day off, you should. Resting after lunch is also great for your digestion.

References: European Society of Cardiology

Why Tasty Foods Like French Fries Leave You Wanting More

Junk Food Shrinks your Brain

Junk food shrinks your brain – yes, really…

Eating junk food can diminish the size of the part of your brain that is linked to learning, memory and mental health.

The study which was published in BMC Medicine look at 255 people and used MRI scans to measure the size of the hippocampus region of the brain, alongside their regular diets. The researchers found that those who ate a healthy diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fish had a larger hippocampus than those who ate more sugar, salt and processed meat in their diets.

The findings are relevant to  mental health, depression and Alzheimer’s, which are a growing concern for the ageing population.

If you are reliant on processed foods and junk food take heed. Try and clean up your diet to include more fresh produce and keep sugar, salt and saturated fat to a minimum.

take a break

Why you Should Take a Break

Why you should take a break during your working day.

Do you get a chance to take a break during your working day? What you do in your break can have a knock on effect on your job satisfaction and wellbeing. Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology looked at data from 95 employees (from 22 – 67 years old) over a typical 5-day workweek. The breaks were recorded and overall the scientists reviewed 959 break surveys.

Here were the 4 key findings:

1. The best time of day to take a break was mid-morning.

2. The best breaks were when the employees did things that they enjoyed. This could be going to the gym, going for a walk, chatting to a friend/colleague.

3. Good breaks have a positive effect on your health and job satisfaction.

4. Taking short, frequent breaks is preferable to one long break.

So there you have it. It‘s important to take breaks during the working day. Make sure you get the most out of yours.

References: Give me a better break: Choosing workday break activities to maximize resource recovery.

aging and intelligence

Ageing and Intelligence

Things are looking up for ageing and intelligence.

A group of population experts from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IILSA) have published a study (published in journal PLOS ONE) that looks at data that was collected in Germany between the period of 2006 – 2012.

Older people are getting smarter, but not fitter

The IILSA researchers found that cognitive test scores increased for both men and women at all ages from 50 – 90, while physical and mental health declined. Low-educated men aged 50 – 64 were even more likely to suffer.

One explanation for the improvement in cognitive performance is lifestyle. The lead researcher, Nadia Steiber suggests that life has become more cognitively challenging; from the use of technology and people working longer in more demanding jobs. On the other hand, people are less physically active which is why obesity is on the rise.

It’s great to hear that intelligence is booming in the ageing population but it’s important that you stay active as well. Whether you walk, swim or take a Pilates class it is important for your overall health and wellbeing to keep moving.

References: Population Aging at Cross-Roads: Diverging Secular Trends in Average Cognitive Functioning and Physical Health in the Older Population of Germany

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