• Looking after your eyes

        Eye Health is something we often neglect, but can become problematic as we age, with increased risk of developing failing vision, cataracts and Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) into old age. A poor diet can put your sight at risk, yet awareness of the link between diet and good eye health is low and a recent survey found sixty per cent of people living in the UK had no idea that what they eat can affect the health of their eyes.

        Vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, found in many fruits, vegetables and other wholesome foods, can help protect your sight and keep your eyes healthy.

        Here are just some of the foods that are rich in eye-friendly nutrients:

        Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and tuna are excellent sources of DHA, and Omega-3 fatty acids. These provide structural support to cell membranes, help reduce inflammation in cells and arteries, and may be beneficial for dry eyes, and the maintenance of general eye health. Research has shown that eating just one portion of fish a week may reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD); the UK’s leading cause of blindness, up to 40%. Two to three portions would be ideal.

        Whole grains and avocados are rich in zinc and Vitamin B. Deficiency in B Vitamins can increase your risk of cataracts and retinopathy.

        Blueberries and grapes contain anthocyanins, which may help improve night vision.

        Green leafy vegetables; spinach or kale, for example, are rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein, meso-zeaxanthin and zeaxanthin form a yellow pigment that helps protect the macula, a tiny yellow spot in your retina, from excessive sun damage by acting as a natural sunblock. Click here for my tasty kale wrap recipe.

        Garlic, onions, shallots and capers are rich in sulphur, which is necessary for the production of glutathione; an important antioxidant required to help maintain healthy sight.

        Eggs are rich in cysteine, sulphur, lecithin, amino acids and lutein. Sulphur may also help protect the lens of the eye from cataracts.

        Papaya is a good source of beta carotene which can help to prevent free radical damage inside the eye.

        Vitamin E rich foods (sunflower & pumpkin seeds; almonds, sweet potato, eggs, avocado, beans, peanuts, wheat germ) include natural anti- inflammatory agents. Vitamin E is important for the maintenance of good eye health. Unfortunately today’s busy lifestyles mean many people miss out on essential nutrients provided by a healthy diet so taking supplements may beneficial.

        If you are worried about your eye health, or have a history of eye disease in the family, please contact me for more support around your diet, and advice on nutritional supplements you can explore.

      • Keeping it Cool

        With temperatures soaring over recent days, staying hydrated has been more important than ever; not only for comfort but to support a range of vital bodily functions.

        Around 70% of our body is made up of water (including our brain), and it has a multitude of roles for our health and wellbeing. Water hydrates our cells, helps removes toxins and waste materials, helps lubricate joints, keeps our kidneys working efficiently, supports digestion by transporting nutrients, and supports critical chemical processes in our metabolism. It is also important for concentration and mood – in fact just a 2% drop in water can reduce our mental and physical performance by up to 20%, and when it’s hot we lose that water through our urine, stools, lungs and over 2 million sweat glands in our skin.

        So how much should we be drinking? On a normal day around 2 litres or 6 large glasses – sipped gradually throughout the day. Herbal teas can count towards this but not caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee or fizzy drinks. When hot or exercising this should be increased, but you can easily check how hydrated you are by checking the colour of your urine, which should be pale and straw coloured. Remember; once you are thirsty you are already dehydrated!

        Top tips for staying cool in the heat

        • Drink water away from mealtimes since water can dilute digestive juices.
        • To make water more interesting, slice lemons, limes or oranges and put in a jug to make a naturally infused flavoured water. These add Vitamin C to your diet as well and help stimulate your liver to help you detox naturally.
        • Make your own ice lollies with simple lolly molds filled with flavoured water.
        • Eat fruits and vegetables high in water content such as watermelon, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, celery, radishes and berries.
        • Chilled soups can also be refreshing when the weather is hot. Look online for ideas using mint, cucumber or even peas and lettuce with crushed ice. 
        • Buy a simple carbon water filter to help purify your tap water. 

      • Grumpy, irritable and comfort eating?

         

        OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week there has been much written in the press about mental health, but something which is less touched on is a SAD; temporary condition which affects millions of people worldwide throughout the winter months.

        SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a condition which can have a profound effect on mood, and mental health from late autumn until the spring. Symptoms can include tearfulness, stress and anxiety, lack of concentration, irritability, feelings of low-esteem and worthlessness and general despair, and in severe cases sufferers can feel suicidal. A lack of sleep can often be a major issue, and it can also influence appetite, immunity and production of feel good hormones such as serotonin, which help us feel positive and motivated.

        The main cause is the lack of sunlight, which causes the brain to produce more melatonin; a hormone which helps us sleep at night. Melatonin production is triggered by the brain as darkness sets in, and then cortisol is produced as daylight emerges to help us feel awake and active, so longer darker days can cause hormone imbalance which can impact on many facets of our well being. This hormone shift can encourage comfort eating and binging, blood sugar imbalance leading to mood swings, and weight gain. Another side effect can be an impaired immune system, which can explain why we are so susceptible to colds and flu at this time of year.

        So what can you do to beat the winter blues?

        • Help support your gut health by cutting back on sugary foods such as refined carbohydrates (cakes, biscuits, pasta, bread and potatoes), and foods we tend to be more intolerant to such as wheat and dairy. Switch white rice and bread for brown rice, grains and wheat germ. Sweet potatoes are a filling and good alternative to white varieties.
        • Reduce stimulants; caffeine, alcohol and chocolate might offer a quick fix when you need a pick me up, but they can trigger cravings and play havoc with your blood sugar levels and brain function in the longer run.
        • Increase your fruit and vegetable portions to boost your vitamin and mineral intake to support your immune system.
        • Boiled eggs brighton hove nutrition wellbeingEggs are the perfect winter fast food. Plenty of ways to cook them; they are cheap, nutritious and rich in Vitamin D and choline and which supports the brain.
        • Essential fats are vital for your brain function so include oily fish, nuts and seeds and olive oil.
        • Look for foods that will help you produce serotonin. Turkey, chicken, fish, avocados, bananas and beans will help. These are also rich in Vitamin D to help make up for lack of sunlight.
        • Get outside in the daylight as much as you can. Take time at lunchtime to leave your desk and go for a walk. If that’s isn’t feasible, look for daylight bulbs to use in your office or home.

        bean soup01

        Finally, comfort eating is fine if you choose the right options. One pot dishes such as bean and vegetable stews, shepherds pies, fish pies, or curries will give you nutritious filling meals to keep you going until the days start getting much longer!

        So, if your friends, family or colleagues are grumpy and irritable this winter, a good place to start is with their diet. After all, as Paul Theroux once wrote “Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.”

         

         

         

         

      • Roll back the years - it's not all about the scales!

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        Do you know your Metabolic Age?

         Whilst bathroom scales can be a useful indicator of your health and wellbeing, they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Most people know roughly what they weigh, but how many know their Metabolic Age, and the importance of that for their health?

        In clinic, and particularly with my weight management clients, body composition scales are a far more useful tool for tracking progress and achievement. They can quickly give an overview of different health markers including fat mass and fat percentage, muscle mass, hydration levels and Base Metabolic Rate (or BMR; ie the amount of calories your body needs to function at rest). They also show levels of visceral fat; the dangerous sort stored around vital organs which isnt always apparent from the outside.

        Lean muscle mass is an important part of the equation since it demands more energy of the body than fat to function; so doing some physical exercise and building lean muscle helps keep the body engine working and can help burn off the fat more quickly.

        If a client is following a programme including exercise, and sees slow progress in the pounds coming off, it is helpful for motivation to be able to demonstrate muscle mass increases (and then a corresponding drop in fat percentage), which might not immediately translate into net weight loss. Toning and reducing the inches can just as easily get you back into those jeans. It is also a great incentive to be told your body thinks it’s years younger than your chronological age!

        If your Metabolic Age is older than you are, it might be time to make some simple lifestyle changes! If you want to find out, I will have my Tanita body composition scales at my free nutrition workshop next Thursday (22nd January) in Hove. Come along and find out how you shape up. Click here on Events for more information.

      • Is your New Year diet falling apart already?

         

        food on scales hove nutrition

        The majority of us start the New Year resolving to lose weight and kick bad habits from Christmas over-indulgences. Two weeks in and the majority have almost certainly given up by now. Why?

        There’s the temptation to eat up the leftovers, a few straggling parties we couldn’t fit in before Christmas, and the stresses of going back to work in the New Year; not to mention lousy weather which makes us reach for the comfort foods. Crash diets and drastic eating plans can also mess up the metabolism and make it harder to stick to a sensible eating routine. Far better to make small sustainable changes which then become part of a new habit rather than raise unrealistic expectations and feel like a failure when they don’t work.

        Patience really does pay off! By just cutting 500 calories out of your food choices each day (or burning 500 extra by walking further or moving around more), that’s 1lb a week which could be nearly 2 stone by the time you need to fit into your summer wardrobe. More importantly, pay attention to your sugar intake as well – not just from sweets and chocolate but bread, pasta, potatoes and alcohol; all of which metabolise to sugar which, if we don’t burn off,  we readily store as fat.

        By mid January, the mince pies and chocolates will be gone, and normal routines are starting to kick back in again so there’s far more chance of sticking to a new and more nourishing eating programme.

        Here are a few tips:

        • Serve yourself smaller portions – or use smaller plates for your main meal. Side plates work well if you put the protein (meat, fish or grains) on one and the vegetables or salad on the other.
        • Resolve to drink more water to help your digestive system. At least 6 large glasses (2 litres a day) is ideal
        • Keep a food diary – you will be amazed what you are eating without thinking. Even better, take a photo of each meal on your smart phone for indisputable photographic evidence.
        • Avoid thinking about ‘losing weight’. If we lose something normally the impetus is to find it again…which is why so many ‘diets’ fail!

        This month I will be running two free workshops to explore the difference between well known diets to understand the pro’s and con’s of each; and another on the myths are realities behind detoxing, and how to undertake a healthy detox to kick start your new regime and improve your overall health. Click here or on my events link for more information. The are free to attend but please do RSVP so I know you are coming.