Good Nutrition Advice

For a healthy body and mind

Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 2)

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).

People with Mental Health Disorders More Likely to Have Heart Attacks

Mental Health, Heart Attack and Stroke

Mental Health, Heart Attack and Stroke

People facing mental health challenges are significantly more likely to have heart disease or stroke, according to a study by the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.

“This population is at high risk, and it’s even greater for people with multiple mental health issues,” says Dr. Katie Goldie, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto

Using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, Dr. Goldie explored the associations between cardiovascular risk and disease, mental health disorders and the use of psychiatric medication.

The study found:

  • People who have had a mental health disorder at any point in their life were twice as likely to have had heart disease or have experienced a stroke.
  • Those who haven’t developed heart disease or had a stroke are more likely to be at a high long-term risk of developing cardiovascular disease, when compared to the general population.
  • People who used psychiatric medications were twice as likely to have heart disease and three times as likely to have had a stroke compared to those not taking these medications.

The study included people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, major depressive and anxiety disorders. Among the psychiatric drugs examined were antipsychotic, antidepressant, benzodiazepine and mood-stabilizing medications.

What accounts for the elevated risk? Dr. Goldie mentions three main factors:

First, people with mental health disorders often exhibit behavioural risk factors, including tobacco and alcohol use, poor diet and physical inactivity. For instance, she says 40 to 90 per cent of people with mental illness use tobacco, compared to 20 per cent of the general Canadian population.

Psychiatric medications can induce weight gain and impair the breakdown of fats and sugars by the body. This can lead to obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. “The medications themselves account for a lot of risk in this group,” she says.

A third issue is access to health care. Patients with mental health disorders may have difficulty communicating their health needs. “Or they may not even seek care because of the symptoms of their disorder,” says Dr. Goldie. “A separation between primary and mental health services can also challenge these patients’ care. We need improved integration and collaboration.”

She adds that there is still stigma associated with mental illness that can even affect the care health professionals provide. Dr. Goldie says that people with mental health disorders are less likely to receive risk-reducing drug therapies or undergo coronary procedures such as bypass surgery.

With one in five Canadians experiencing a mental health disorder in their lifetime, this is an urgent issue for cardiovascular health. Dr. Goldie, who is also an adjunct assistant professor at the Queen’s University School of Nursing in Kingston, says that healthcare providers need to pay even closer attention to patients with mental health disorders.

Healthcare providers can improve the cardiovascular health of their patients by being vigilant in conducting routine cardiovascular risk assessments, before and after initiating psychopharmacological treatment, in addition to offering health promotion interventions to target known cardiovascular risk factors.

It is very important that people have their mental health issues treated and also be proactive in speaking with their care providers about their overall health, says Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Brian Baker, a psychiatrist who specializes in people with cardiac disease.

“The prevention strategies are the same for people with mental health issues,” says Dr. Baker. “That means eating a healthy diet, being physically active, being smoke-free, managing stress and limiting alcohol consumption. Making positive health behaviour changes is important to our physical health and to mental health too.”

He adds that ongoing follow-up with medical professionals is essential and that even if certain medications can have some risks, the benefits often outweigh the risks, so it is important that people talk to their doctors, continue to take their prescribed medications and follow healthy behaviours.

B Vitamins and Their Role in Alzheimer’s Prevention

B Vitamins and Their Role in Alzheimer's Prevention

B Vitamins and Their Role in Alzheimer’s Prevention

“Wouldn’t it be nice if people could pop a pill to prevent dementia? If ever it comes to pass, that pill won’t contain B vitamins”, declared the Alzheimer’s Forum, a website for pharmaceutical researchers.

“Taking B vitamins does not seem to cut the risk of developing dementia”, said the BBC last month. Meanwhile, the Alzheimer’s Society launch their prevention plan – but, extraordinarily B vitamins and homocysteine are not even mentioned. Has something happened to question the advice to take B vitamin supplements? The answer is yes and no.

Last month to quote the BBC, “scientists headed by Professor Lisette de Groot, Wageningen University, the Netherlands, found that a supplement containing vitamin B12 and folic acid did not improve cognitive performance in nearly 3,000 volunteers predicted to get a boost from the supplements”.

What actually happened in the research process for this study?

Almost 3,000 participants were given B12 (500mcg) and folic acid (400mcg), or placebos. The individuals were aged 65+ without memory problems but with high homocysteine levels above 12/mcmol/l, which is a risk factor for developing dementia later in life.

On testing two years later those on B vitamins versus placebos had a significant one third slower decline in their memory function as measured by the MiniMentalStateExam (MMSE), but no change in other cognitive tests which were run on a much smaller sub-group of participants.

According to Professor David Smith, author of a previous study on the effects of B vitamins on cognitive function “the study was almost certainly underpowered”, in other words the sub-groups were too small to pick up a significant change in two years.

Other than the MMSE, the other test applied to the whole group was for ‘episodic memory’. There was no significant change overall, but when the authors selected the participants with low B12 status (they measured this in a blood test called HoloTC) those that were given B vitamins again had a significantly slower rate of decline.

The placebo group declined 50% faster than you would expect on average over the two years that the study was conducted. But what happened to those on the B vitamins? They declined a significant third less and from this result you would expect them to take three times as long to develop mild cognitive impairment, leading to dementia.

The accurate BBC headline should have been: B vitamins slow risk of developing dementia by a third.

So why the bad press? Nobody in either group developed dementia, so how could the BBC say “taking B vitamins does not cut the risk of developing dementia”? Why indeed. Both the study authors and Professor David Smith complained to the BBC about their blatant misrepresentation of the study results.

If your homocysteine level is high (above 10mcmol/l) all the evidence to date points in the same direction — that B vitamins do either slightly improve, arrest or slow down the rate of memory decline versus placebos. In other words, taking B vitamins works for those at risk by virtue of having high homocysteine, which is about half the 65+ population.

So, why all the negative reporting in the media? Possibly money makes the wheels go round… The last thing pharmaceutical companies want is a non-patentable, non-profitable B vitamin supplement cutting dementia risk.

Cynical? Maybe… But they want a patentable, profitable drug. If there was a drug that could reduce the shrinkage of the Alzheimer’s areas of the brain by almost nine times, and virtually stop any further memory, they would be shouting this from the rooftops.

Instead, it appears that the intention is to kill off the competition — B vitamins…

How to Not Get Sick This Winter

How to not get sick this winter

How to not get sick this winter

Learn how you can beat the cold weather blues and support your body through the tough winter months — because better nutritional support can help give you better general health for stronger immunity.

Book a pre-winter vitamin and mineral analysis before the end of October and as a bonus get a 10% saving off your online consultation.

After you have filled out the forms you will receive very specific and personal recommendations for your diet, lifestyle and supplement programme. The aim is not only to help you improve your immune function so that you stay healthy throughout the winter, but also to address any other niggling health challenges you may be facing.

These could be to do with your energy levels, hormones, weight, fertility, blood pressure, cholesterol… or even more serious problems.

There are limited appointments for this special Winter offer which ends on 30th October 2014 so contact me today to confirm your consultation and you get your individual discounted link.

Thank you!

Natural Choices

Natural CoursesIf you’re interested in Natural Health you’ll love Natural Choices. This online course in Natural Health, Nutrition, Psychology and Food Choices, will help kick start your healthy living plan.

There are 18 modules you can go through in your own time. This course is a unique and potentially life-changing learning experience giving you constant access to 100s of tips and health suggestions that you can easily incorporate in your life to make a difference!



Perimenopause: Have It, Live It, Love It! Book Review

PMA_ebook01-smallI’ve had so many of you ask me about menopause and perimenopause recently. So, I started writing a book on it few months ago, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve had to put it on the back burner.

Then it dawned on me — there are lots of great books on the subject out there, so I really don’t need to write one!

One the best I have read so far is Pam Andrew’s Perimenopause: Have It, Live It, Love It! If I were to use only one word to describe this book to you, it would be comprehensive. From her discussion on the symptoms to the various medical tests and treatments right down to the natural home remedies you can use to relieve your perimenopause symptoms, this book has it all.

Although not a doctor by profession she explains clearly, and in plain English, what perimenopause is. Her work is very thorough and her background in magazine writing is clearly evident in the easy language she uses to simplify the medical implications of this stage in our lives.

For women who are looking for a complete survival guide to perimenopause, this is a fantastic resource. It’s the kind of book that won’t just sit in your computer once you’ve downloaded it. I’m sure you’ll be printing several copies of it — one for your kitchen cabinet or fridge door, another to put on your bedside table, and another inside your desk drawer in the office!

So, for all of who are experiencing hot flashes, irregular periods, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, abdominal and hip weight gain — get your copy! It will change your life!

P.S. Watch out for my new range of menopause natural supplements…

Osteoarthritis? Eat your greens!

Just 100g of broccoli a day can help with osteoarthritis

Just 100g of broccoli a day can help with osteoarthritis

New research has found that osteoarthritis can be slowed – or even prevented, by simply eating a small amount of broccoli every day. 

There’s a compound in broccoli called sulforaphane and esearchers from the University of East Anglia suggest that consuming just 100g of this dark green vegetable daily can slow the destruction of cartilage in the joints.

According to Arthritis Research UK, an incredible 8.75 million people in the UK have sought treatment for osteoarthritis, including one third of people aged 45 and older. Unfortunately, there is no medical treatment for this disease, which occurs when the joints become damaged, stop moving freely and become painful.  Most people rely on painkillers and anti-inflammatories, which can also have adverse effects on the body.

 After such a promising start, new research is being undertaken – so watch this space!

Refs: Arthritis & Rheumatism, 2013; doi: 10.1002/art38133

Preventing kidney stones

preventing kidney stones

Nuts, seeds and whole grains are high in magnesium

While tendencies towards kidney stones are genetic – if one parent is a stone-former there is increased risk – other factors involved in preventing kidney stones include diet and nutrient deficiencies. Kidney stones are an accumulation of mineral salts that can lodge anywhere along the urinary tract.

There are three types of stones: calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate and uric acid. In eighty percent of cases, kidney stones are calcium oxide. The most common symptom is severe back pain that radiates from the back across the abdomen and into the genital area or inner thighs. This pain is also associated with nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, blood in the urine, pain on urination and sometimes chills and fever.

Dietary factors

Eating refined carbohydrates, including sugar, seems to be a major factor in the formation of stones. Sugar consumption stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, which in turn stimulates increased calcium excretion through the urine. When unbalanced by adequate calcium, consuming foods high in phosphorus such as meat and soft drinks also leads to increased calcium loss via the urine.

Avoiding foods high in oxalic acid is often recommended for preventing kidney stones, however, this link is unproven. Studies show that only 16 percent of stone-formers were found to have excess urinary oxalates.

Nutritional deficiencies

Magnesium helps dissolve oxalates in the urine and allows them to be excreted before stones are formed. Vitamin B6 is essential for the normal metabolism of oxalic acid. Deficiencies of either vitamin B6 or magnesium increase kidney stone risk. Anyone who survives on a processed food diet will almost certainly be deficient in both of these. Getting the correct balance of these essential nutrients is key to preventing kidney stones.

Both vitamin A deficiency and vitamin C deficiency may also promote stone formation. Smokers are nearly always vitamin C deficient as each cigarette destroys as much vitamin C as there is one orange. Taking supplements in their most available form is vital in keeping kidney stones under control. The quality of your vitamin supplement is also a factor in preventing kidney stones. If you are in any doubt, let me know and I can give you some personal supplements recommendations.

Cadmium toxicity

Last, but not least, cadmium. Cadmium is a trace mineral that can damage the kidneys. Exposure is associated with increased risk of kidney stones. Smokers have abnormally high levels of cadmium in their blood and therefore run a higher risk of forming stones. Cadmium can be found in drinking water, fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and refined grains. Metalworkers, including coppersmiths are generally chronically exposed to cadmium.

If you find you are getting recurrent symptoms and would like some nutritional and supplement advice for preventing kidney stones, let me know.

Prostate cancer and omega-3 study

prostate cancer and omega-3 study

It’s doubtful that omega-3 causes prostate cancer

IT’S the weekend and I just wanted to clear up a few misconceptions that seem to floating around on the internet. Quite a few people have asked me about recent newspaper and online articles that have been reporting on the prostate cancer and omega-3 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggesting omega-3 fatty acids from fish and supplements increase risk of prostate cancer.

The problem with much of the research done on vitamins these days is that many of the trials are not randomized and controlled, which is exactly what happened with the prostate cancer and omega-3 study. These ‘results’ were not taken from a randomized controlled trial, but a trial that compared omega-3 levels in men with prostate cancer against healthy men. Although the men with prostate cancer had higher levels of omega-3, that is rather like comparing men with prostate cancer who play golf with healthy men who are not golf players, and then suggesting playing golf triggers prostate cancer.

It is also unclear whether those diagnosed with prostate cancer were taking supplements, or eating more fish, because previous studies showed positive effects of omega-3 on prostate cancer. In 2010, a large-scale meta-analysis of 31 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that there was a 63 percent decrease in the risk of death from prostate cancer with high fish consumption.

In fact, numerous others studies conducted on omega-3 fatty acids by the Harvard School of Public Health classed omega-3 deficiency as a bigger killer than a high intake of trans fats. The study found that omega-3 deficient diets cause up to 96,000 preventable deaths a year in the US.   The researchers estimated the number of deaths resulting from 12 preventable causes and omega-3 deficiency ranked as the sixth highest killer of Americans.

There are also many cultures, such as the Japanese, who eat high amounts of oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids and have the lowest prostate cancer death rates in the world.

But don’t forget – the quality of your omega-3 fish oil supplements is important. With fish oils, it’s important not to just look at the amount of fish oil, which might say 1,000mg. The most important piece of information is the amount of EPA and DHA that the supplement contains should may be on the back of the label.

You’re aiming for 770mg EPA and 510mg DHA each day. The fish oil should be from natural deep-sea fish, not farmed fish and each batch screened for contaminants such as dioxins, PCBs and heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium. Nordic Naturals is one of the best, cleanest brands you can take. If you want to know where to get it, drop me an email.

Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, Mucci LA: Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr2010;92:1223-1233.

The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors” stud, April 2009, PLoS Medicine.

Why soap and shampoo may not be good for you

soapSODIUM lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in hundreds of cosmetic products and household cleaners. According to the Environment Working Group’s ‘Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews’, research has shown links between SLS and its derivatives to skin and eye irritation, organ toxicity, biochemical or cellular changes, nerve toxicity and even possible mutations and cancer.

This information isn’t new: a report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. The National Institutes of Health’s Household Products Directory of chemical ingredients lists lots of products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called highly irritating and dangerous. So, unless you use organic, chemical-free shampoo and soap, you are immersing your hair, skin and nails in this and other toxic compounds every day.

The only way to know what is in the products you are using is to read the list of ingredients on the packaging of everything you use on your skin, including make-up and toothpaste. If it reads like a laboratory check-list – and if you’re buying it at a supermarket or on the High Street, you can be pretty sure that it will –  you can easily find pure, natural, chemical-free alternatives online.


GT crops bring diseases and death

NEW research reveals the disastrous ecological impacts of the world’s top herbicide and GM crops made tolerant to it. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Brett Cherry believe Glyphosate tolerant (GT) crops and glyphosate herbicide (commercial formulation,Roundup) poison nitrogen fixing and other beneficial soil bacteria, increase fungal pathogens, undermine plant immunity to diseases, decrease plant micronutrients available in the soil, and more.

Research findings over the past decades paint a damning picture of the cropping system that has taken over 85 percent of the 134 million hectares of global agricultural land now growing genetically modified (GM) crops (see [1] Scientists Reveal Glyphosate Poisons Crops and Soil, SiS 47). The unprecedented rise in GT crops has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the use of the glyphosate herbicides worldwide, especially in the US [2] GM Crops Increase Herbicide Use in the United StatesSiS 45).

15 glyphosate herbicide injury coffee Coffea a...

15 glyphosate herbicide injury coffee Coffea arabica (Photo credit: Scot Nelson)

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